Church replacing 100-year-old pews, sold for small fee as keepsakes

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- Inside the historic Basilica of St. Adalbert on Grand Rapids west side a revival is taking place. However, instead of filling the pews with people, people are emptying the church and filling their trucks with pews.

"The ones that we're taking out are over a hundred years old," Father Louis Stasker said.

Stasker said the church considered replacing the aging pews about a decade ago as part of the ongoing renovations, but it didn't fit in the budget.

"It's been a process. They did everything from re-coppering the dome to re-plastering the inside and repainting. So the pews is just the final stage," he explained.

For just $25, Mike and Marcia Milanowski get to take home a piece of history that's hosted some major milestones in their family.

"We were fortunate. We got one of the last ones," Milanowski said.

They explained, "We both were baptized here as new babies."

The couple, which is now in their 60s, said they went to the elementary school, tied the knot at the church and their ties to the church span several generations. Their grandparents were parishioners. Their children attend the church.

It was Mr. Milanowski's sister who tipped him off to the church pew sale. It became a hot topic, and the pews were claimed pretty fast at both masses over the weekend. Each person wrote their name on the one they wanted.

So as the cliché goes, out with the old and in with the new. Stasker said there will be 50 fewer pews to make room for more space.

"They'll look the same in terms of the style, but they're more ergonomically correct with the modern body," Stasker said.

He said they'll be more comfortable. As for the century-old pew heading to the Milanowski home, Mr. Milanowski said it's "something to put on the porch and enjoy sitting on."

Marcia Milanowski added, "...and maybe pass down to our kids."

Father Stasker said the cost will total $230,000 and a company in Zeeland is actually making the new pews. They hope to have them all installed by Saturday in time for mass.

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