THE RAVENNA MOSAIC COMPANY:  A RETROSPECTIVE

THE RAVENNA PROJECT

 

The Ravenna Project at Pius XII Memorial Library of Saint Louis University  traces its beginnings to a friendship that developed nearly fifty years ago between Father Maurice McNamee, S. J., a member of the English and Art History faculties at Saint Louis University, and Paul and Arno Heuduck, father and son, and owners of the Ravenna Mosaic Company of St. Louis.  Although Father McNamee's formal academic training was in literature, he had a life long interest interest in art and architecture.  In fact, the pilot art program he developed at Saint Louis University eventually became the formal art department for the University.  Father McNamee would often take his classes to visit the Ravenna Mosaic studio on Grand Avenue and Emil Frei's art glass studio on Meramec Street, both in south St. Louis.

In 1975, three years after Paul Heuduck passed away, Arno Heuduck left St. Louis and moved to Fredricktown, Missouri, with the intention of retiring from the mosaic business.  The project that had brought Paul Heuduck to St. Louis in the first place and that had resulted in the creation of the Ravenna Mosaic Company, was the mosaic work at the St. Louis (New) Cathedral.  The Cathedral mosaics had sustained the Ravenna Company financially for more than fifty years,  but the work remained unfinished and it did not appear that the Catholic Archdiocese of St. Louis had the resources to complete the project.  But the Archdiocese suddenly made a commitment to finish the mosaic project, so Arno built a new studio next to his home in Fredricktown, hired local artists to assist him, and set to work to complete the Cathedral mosaics.  Father McNamee worked very closely with Arno during this last phase of the Cathedral project.

Arno passed away in 1988, approximately three months after the last mosaic panel had been installed at the St. Louis Cathedral.  Father McNamee remained in touch with Del Heuduck, Arno's widow, and learned of her plans to close down the family's mosaic business.  Due primarily to Father McNamee's long friendship with the Heuduck family, Del Heuduck decided in May, 1992, to donate more than thirty records center cartons of Ravenna's business records and three mosaic panels to the Saint Louis University Archives in Pius XII Memorial Library.

Shortly after the records arrived at the Archives, a preliminary inventory of their contents was completed.  Unfortunately, however, the records remained in this unprocessed condition until July, 2001.  At that time, Mr. Robert Blaskiewicz, a doctoral candidate in the Department of English at Saint Louis University, began a two year graduate assistantship project to begin formal processing of the Ravenna files and to plan and execute an exhibit of Ravenna mosaics and related materials on the Saint Louis University campus.  This graduate assistantship marks the more precise "beginning" of the Ravenna Project.

At this point, Mr. Blaskiewicz has completed processing two series of Ravenna records, filling eleven records center cartons.  These two series of records are now available to the public for research at the Saint Louis University Archives.  In addition to this work on collection processing and for this web site, Mr. Blaskiewicz is currently developing plans for a formal exhibit of Ravenna mosaics for October, 2003.  This exhibit will be held in the McNamee Gallery of the Samuel Cupples House on the Saint Louis University Campus.

 

 
 

Paul (right) and Arno Heuduck, the father and son team who owned and operated the Ravenna Mosaic Company.  (Photo courtesy of  St. Louis Cathedral)

Father Maurice McNamee, S.J., Professor Emeritus of English and Art History at Saint Louis University.  It was Father McNamee's friendship and professional relationship with Paul and Arno Heuduck that resulted in Saint Louis University becoming the repository for the Ravenna corporate records. 

 

 

 


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