Our Lady Queen of Heaven Church
Our Lady Queen of Heaven Church's modern design was made possible in large part by the parish priest, Monsignor Irving DeBlanc, who persuaded his parishioners that a contemporary building would best serve changes in liturgy made by Vatican Council II.
Our Lady Queen of Heaven Church was built in 1968 for a new Catholic parish in a growing residential neighborhood in Lake Charles. The building’s modern design was made possible in large part by the parish priest, Monsignor Irving DeBlanc, who persuaded his parishioners that a contemporary building would best serve the major changes in liturgy made by Vatican Council II in 1962–1965. To confirm that the design complied with the new liturgy, the architects submitted the plans to artist and liturgical design consultant Frank Kacmarcik of Minnesota.
The church as built was the third design submitted by the architects, Curtis and Davis of New Orleans, and provides a handsome and effective response to the Vatican Council’s recommendations. From the construction materials of brick, wood, and glass to the square plan, flat roof, and continuous open space, the church provides—as project architect Robert Biery said—“a simple objective statement of transparency restrained so as to allow the people to see each other in celebration, rather than the building elements.” Set to the rear of its site, the church is screened from the street first by a grove of pine trees and then by low, white-painted brick walls that define a forecourt, mediating between secular and sacred space. The church embodies transparency. Its lower walls of clear glass allow for a view through the building to the landscaped courtyard on the other side. Greenery, plants, and flowers provide the colorful substitutes for stained glass. The upper exterior walls of stained cedar extend beyond the boundaries of the lower glass walls to shade the interior from the sun. Seating is arranged on three sides facing the altar, and the baptismal font is incorporated into the single interior space that encompasses all aspects of worship. The wood ceiling, low-backed pews, curtains, and carpet—all in muted tones of brown and beige—are meant to serve as a background for the congregants. Both the exterior and interior offer a serene, peaceful environment.
Adapted from Karen Kingsley’s Buildings of Louisiana, part of the Buildings of the United States series commissioned by the Society of Architectural Historians (www.sah.org);and published by Oxford University Press.