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Setting The Scene: Church Nativity Figures Not Seen In Years

This Nativity Scene used to be on display at the former First Congregational Church, 323 E. Third St. Submitted photos

The hand-painted figures in the Nativity Scene ushered in the spirit and joy of the holiday season.

Motorists as well as pedestrians saw how prominently it was displayed on the lawn of the former First Congregational Church, 323 E. Third St.

Well, that particular scene has not been seen in years.

Those beautiful figures – where did they go?

In 2001, Carolyn Volk of 1596 Manchester Road, Jamestown; her daughter, Cindy DiNapoli; and grandson, Sebastian DiNaploi, made sure those figures were ready for the holiday season that year. In August 2001, in Volk’s garage, the trio began refurbishing the figures so they could be displayed in time for the holiday season. The figures were completed in late September 2001.

Pictured is a wiseman figure before it was refurbished. Submitted photo

“We always put it (the scene) under the tree,” Volk said recently.

Volk and her daughter want to see the scene being used again.

“Every year, my daughter and I say, ‘We’re going to find out where the nativity scene went.’ I would love to see it out somewhere,” Volk said

DiNapoli said the figures are made of wood and are on the heavy side, but nonetheless, they hold a special place in her and her mother’s heart because the refurbishing process became somewhat of a tradition.

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Volk first started working on the figures in 1956 in her home, which at the time was not on Manchester Road. The scene was a fixture in the city for some time.

The angel figure before it was refurbished.

Volk then moved to Pittsburgh, Pa., in the ’70s. While in Pittsburgh, Volk created Santas and other Christmas items sold at shows there and in Virginia Beach Williamsburg, Va., and Annandale, Md. When she returned to Jamestown in the late ’90s, she noticed the scene was not up. She contacted some people, and the scene was seen again. She and her family, then, in 2001, refurbished the scene again.

It was a detailed process to touch up the figures, Volk recalled. In 2001, the only way the scene could be refurbished was to completely repaint the figures by taking a close-up photo of each, and work from those photos.

After the sanding, wood filling and priming, Volk redrew them from the photos and painted them. Her grandson drew the hands and faces, and each figure had two coats of paint.

Volk, her daughter, and Volk’s grandson worked on the project in their spare time, and Volk did not receive any payment for her endeavors.

The scene was displayed for some years until the church was put up for sale around 2010.

Figures after getting repainted and waiting for the redrawing of details.

In 2015, the church moved its belongings, which included the Nativity Scene, as the building became The Spire Theatre and Development Center.

“When they moved out, they took everything with them,” Angelo Valentino, of The Spire Theatre, said of the figures.

Volk said if the figures are in storage, they may need to be touched up again.

“You can’t hide them. They are big and heavy,” DiNapoli said of the figures.

Anyone with information on where the scene or its figures are, please call 716-487-1111 at ext. 239 or send an email to mzabrodsky@post-journal.com

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