Restoration work underway at Gurnee's St. Paul the Apostle Church

Crews have been striking a delicate balance as they restore the inside of St. Paul the Apostle Church in Gurnee.

Working under a tight deadline, Lincolnwood-based Fortune Restoration has stepped aside to accommodate weekday funerals and has ensured parishioners can attend weekend Masses since starting Aug. 15. Fortune Restoration is among the contractors with the Archdiocese of Chicago's seal of approval for church jobs.

Tom Fortune, co-owner of the family business, said the work includes installing new acoustic fabric, repairing water-damaged drywall, cleaning air-conditioning vents and painting the ceiling, walls and trim. St. Paul the Apostle's interior renovation must be finished by Friday, Sept. 9, in time for a wedding the next day.

At the start of the project's first two weeks, crews moved all of the pews to clear space for scaffolding and lifts, Fortune said. Each week, the pews are returned to the proper areas to accommodate Masses for Saturday and Sunday.

The church's pastor, the Rev. Gregory Houck, said he's appreciates the care workers are taking for the project.

“All of the infrastructure, when it's all over, will be changed,” Houck said. “It'll be substantially changed. So the audio system will be different, the organ system will be different, the lighting system will be different. But when you come in, (the church) will all look the same.”

St. Paul the Apostle became Gurnee's first Catholic church when it opened at Hunt Club and Gages Lake roads in July 1998. The 42,000-square-foot building was built for $5.5 million.

Fortune said working in a church is unlike renovating other buildings.

“You have to treat it with reverence and respect,” Fortune said Friday. “It's not a construction site. It's a house of worship, and our men treat it as such. The two most sacred places in an individual's life is their home and their house of worship. There's no music blaring. There's no lunch eaten. There's no garbage thrown out inside the church.”

Scaffolding takes center stage as extensive restoration work is performed at St. Paul the Apostle Church in Gurnee. Courtesy of Fortune Restoration
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