Tour of Holy Archangel Michael and All Angels Skete
Chapel and Trapeza
Once the property was acquired the building was initially a chapel, today is the central gathering place (a trapeza-monastic dining area). Lovingly crafted using cordwood construction by the previous property owner is a circular structure made of logs placed into a bed of cement. Cedar was cut into two feet logs and some chopped are from the forest and carefully placed between concrete-forming the walls. The cordwood design provides a natural insulation to keep the heat out in the summer and the severe cold out during the winter. Cordwood structures are still standing and date back one thousand years in Northern Greece and Siberia!
Energy efficient and very sustainable sod roof: building inspection states: "This green system consists of a decking over the beams of 2x6 and 2x8 tongue and groove planks, covered with a water-tight bitumous membrain, covered with two 2" layers of foam board, a drainage layer of pea-gravel approx 4" deep and topped with approx. 8" of soil ringed with treated railroad ties." This roof was originally sewn two grass types but over the years has picked up seeds of native plants, requires maintenance with several year layers and if maintained annually should last the life of the structure.
Another amazing feature of the (trapeza) is a Russian furnace stove. The Russian stove once fired up and heated retains and distributes the heat up to 12 hours. All these structural designs made from the environment adds a refreshing and earth friendly atmosphere.
The two log cabins will likely be used initially as guest cells. Constructed from near-by timber, they provide an aesthetic quality consistent with monastic values – i.e. that the structures of the monastery should be harmonious with the natural environment. The furniture is made from local trees. Later, they will likely be used as monastic “cells”.
The third cabin has served as a tool shed in the past. But it will be converted into a third “cell”. The word cell is based on the idea of a communal beehive. Even the prisons borrowed monastic words for their living quarters. A “penitentiary” was originally the idea of a place to repent or to be ”penitential.” Their use of the word cell came from this original monastic context.
This larger building will serve several functions in the monastery. It is built in the Appalachian ‘dog-trot’ design. The distinguishing feature are two buildings joined by a common roof and breezeway. The breezeway serves as a common gathering area, an area for prayerful meditation while observing the pond and forest below, as well as a place to cool off in hot Missouri summers! It will provide initial cells for the nuns, a fully functioning woodshop with exhaust system, and a greenhouse designed to adapt to the many Missouri climate changes.
The workshop is fully operational with electric saws, a sander, router, and an exhaust system that will enable wood working and icon mounting to be implemented immediately (see photo).
The greenhouse is perfect for enabling starter herbs and plants year-round. One of our hopes is to grow and cultivate medicinal herbs and help support the monastery with teas, tinctures and salves.
Three rooms will enable the sisters of St. Xenia Sisterhood to make their transition from the city to the rural, monastic environment.
The design is enhanced by energy saving systems. Concrete roof tiles with underlayment provide a 50-year roof. (According to the recent inspection it still has 40 years to go). The radiant heat of the plumbing system below the flooring provides a very low cost way to heat the entire building. Last winter, while using the radiant heat alone, the basement was 68 degrees Fahrenheit!
Trails and Ponds
Much of traditional monastic life in Greece, Serbia, Russia and Alaska was in the setting of forests and streams. The site for the future monastery has 65-acres of forest, trails, a creek and two ponds. In addition, there are 15-acres of pasture for farming, gardening, and grazing.
The trees vary between sycamore, cedar, walnut, hickory, oak, pine and some Osage orange. Throughout the property there are carefully laid out grassy trails 5-6 yards wide. Along the way, one can find many natural herbs, mushrooms, and wild flowers. (Of course, it is Missouri! So, caution must be taken for poison ivy and insect repellant). Click here for a natural remedy for insect repellant.
Along the trails, you will find pond, nearly an acre in size, stocked with bass, catfish, and crappie. With a sandy entrance, it is ideal for baptisms or wading in the water on a hot day. A dock and a row boat provide immediate places from which to fish. Nearby there is a smaller gold fish pond. It will likely be an ideal place for cultivating tilapia fish as a source of protein.