Guide to the Kaletta Statuary Company Drawings

MSN/MN 9201


Collection Summary

Title: Kaletta Statuary Company drawings
Dates: ca. 1915-1944
Collection No.: MN/MSN 9201
Extent: 545 items; 5 containers and 1 map case drawer; 11.2 linear feet.
Language: Collection material in English.
Repository: University of Notre Dame. Hesburgh Libraries, Department of Special Collections. 102 Hesburgh Library, Notre Dame, IN 46556
Abstract: A collection of architectural drawings and blueprints of church furnishings, created by the Kaletta Statuary Company of St. Louis, Missouri.

Selected Search Terms

Church furniture
Church decoration and ornament
Catholic Church -- Liturgical objects
Architectural drawings -- 1900-1950
Kaletta Statuary Company

Administrative Information

Restrictions: There are no access restrictions on this collection.

Preferred Citation: Kaletta Statuary Company Drawings, Department of Special Collections, Hesburgh Libraries of Notre Dame.

Acquisition and Processing Note: The Kaletta Statuary Company Drawings were purchased by the Hesburgh Libraries of Notre Dame in 2009, from Carmen D. Valentino Rare Books and Manuscripts of Philadelphia. Arranged and described 2010-11, by Kathryn Ossing. Finding aid 2011, by Kathryn Ossing, Sara Szakaly and George Rugg.

Biographical Note

The Kaletta Statuary Company (also known at various points in its history as the Kaletta Company; A. T. Kaletta & Company, and the Kaletta Statuary and Church Goods Company) was founded in St. Louis, Missouri in 1876 by the German immigrant Andrew T. Kaletta (1847-1916). The business was long located at 3715-21 South California Avenue, in the southwest part of the city. Kaletta himself was trained in the fabrication of cast and painted religious statuary, and the manufacture of such figures long remained the company's core concern. According to a history of local businesses published ca. 1908, Kaletta was founded ". . .solely for the purpose of promoting ecclesiastical or church works of art. . . .[r]eligious statuary and monumental work, both for exterior and interior use, is made and can be furnished by this firm in a number of different substances. Also pictorial and tapestry paintings of religious nature and marble work in domestic or foreign marbles." In 1914 leadership of the company passed to Kaletta's three sons, Andrew C., Waldemar, and Alfred, as president, treasurer, and secretary, respectively. In the twentieth century Kaletta's activities expanded to include the design of all manner of church appointments and furniture: candlesticks, lamps, tabernacles, altars, baptismal fonts, vestment cases, choir stalls, and pews, among other products. Some of these items were manufactured by Kaletta's artisans. Others were designed at Kaletta but manufactured by subcontracters. As Kaletta's naturalistic style of statuary fell out of fashion towards mid-century, church furnishings seem to have become the company's lifeline. It oversaw the design and installation of Roman Catholic church interiors in St Louis and elsewhere, including St. Mary Magdalene and St. Gabriel's. (The company dealt with churches of all denominations, but the core of its clientele was always Roman Catholic). At the height of its prosperity ca. 1940, Kaletta did business across the central U. S. The company closed its doors in 1969.

Scope and Content Note

The collection consists of 545 original working drawings and photoreproductive copies of drawings (mainly blueprints) of Kaletta products and projects, executed in the first half of the twentieth century. Dated drawings, which are uncommon, range from 1915 to 1944. Most of the works appear to have been executed by Kaletta's designers; many are stamped: "This is the property of the Kaletta Co., St. Louis, Mo., and should be returned". A small number of drawings are attributed to other firms. Most of the drawings are in pencil, on a wide variety of papers and tracing papers; a few are on board or vellum. Dimensions range from 6 x 9 inches to 80 x 64 inches. Many of the items bear manuscript annotations, often indicating the customer's and/or subcontractor's name. The collection was formerly held in twelve large cardboard folders, doubtless original to the company. These were topically arranged, and were titled as follows: (1) Wrought iron and bronze work—lecterns, prieu-Dieus, Bishop chairs, brackets, sanctuary gates, pulpits, cemetery gates; (2) candlesticks and candelabras; (3) lanterns and sanctuary lamps; (4) tabernacle repositories; (5) Old altar designs; (6) baptismal & Holy Water fonts; (7) Vestment cases; (8) Prieu-Dieus, Chairs, Sedilia, Bishop thrones, Choir stalls; (9) Pews; (10) Miscel. Plans and Layouts; (11) Ornaments—sanctuary lights, altar tables, baptismal fonts, stations of the cross; (12) Miscellaneous—memorial plaques, pedestals, altar mausoleums. This arrangement has been largely preserved in the twelve series outlined below. It is to be noted that very few of the drawings relate to Kaletta's business in statuary.

Arrangement Note

The collection is arranged into 12 series, as follows: 1) Wrought Iron and Bronze; 2) Candlesticks; 3) Lanterns and Sanctuary Lamps; 4) Tabernacles, Repositories, Monstrances, and Ciborium; 5) Altar Designs; 6) Baptismal Fonts and Holy Water Fonts; 7) Vestment Cases; 8) Prie-Dieus, Chairs, Sedilia, Bishop's Thrones, and Choir Stalls; 9) Pews; 10) Plans and Layouts; 11) Ornaments; 12) Miscellaneous. Individual folders contain drawings for the same or similar products, or for a particular commission.

Container List