St Ann Arts and Cultural Center is the home of The Largest Collection of Fresco Paintings in North America. Voted Best Attraction in New England by Yankee Magazine. Called America's Sistine Chapel.
Stepping inside St. Ann may be as close as any visitor to Woonsocket can get to heaven on earth.
Just about every inch of the 93-year-old church is decorated with intricate frescos, oil paintings and stained glass windows. Built in 1918 and painted in 1940, the former church, which is now an arts and cultural center, claims the largest collection of fresco paintings in the United States. Its artist, a hunchback named Guido Nincheri, plastered and painted the walls by hand for $25,000 in 1940.
Concrete painted columns appear to be fine Italian marble as they stretch 60 feet into the air, supporting the ceiling. The intricate stained glass windows appear three-dimensional. The pastel colored frescos show a deft hand, the physiques of the bodies are physically accurate, highly detailed and Michelangelo-like in their poses.
Nincheri used the parishioners and local community member faces as the faces of the figures in the paintings, making the building into a massive scrapbook of the French-Canadian mill workers that collected and donated nickels and dimes to build and decorate their beloved Catholic church.
In 2000, the Diocese of Providence could no longer afford the maintenance costs to keep the church active. Afraid that the church may be destroyed, the St. Ann Arts and Cultural Center was formed. The concerned individuals that made up the Center leased the building until 2007, when the Diocese turned ownership of the building over to the nonprofit group. Today, the church is open on Sundays from 1 - 4 p.m. for guided tours. St. Ann's was named an Editor's Choice: Best of New England by Yankee Magazine in 2011. Run as a nonprofit organization, the center can also be rented for events (including weddings,) and holds many local fundraisers and celebrations.
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Recommended by 100% of couples
Holly · Married on 08/01/2015
Wally and the team at St. Ann's made my dreams come true for my wedding reception! The decor was above & beyond what I imagined and everyone was impressed. The attention to detail and personal touch that the staff gives made my special day even more special! Thank you for everything Wally!Sent on 09/09/2015
Lillian · Married on 09/06/2014
We had the Wedding of our Dreams , This Venue is Remarkable, Our Ceremony was so personalized and the Mister made everyone feel at home, My Friends Laughed and Cried as the ceremony unfolded before their eyes. We decided to have our Cocktail hour at St Ann's even though we did not stay for the cocktail hour my guest said it was extraordinary as the Volunteers transormed the room in a matter of minutes. Our Catering and Bar service was "A Touch of Class" for the Cocktail Hour. Visit St Ann's and see for yourself.Sent on 12/02/2014
Our Reception was held at the Beautiful Providence Biltmore, with amazing service and Decor.
Paul & Cat · Married on 09/21/2013
This establishment is absolutely AMAZING! not only is it beautiful and historic but the volunteers and staff are excellent and so easy to work with. They truly include you into their "family".Sent on 01/28/2014