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Houston’s South Main Baptist Church Praises ETC Source Four

The interior of South Main Baptist Church

It started when South Main Baptist in Houston decided they wanted to replace the church’s organ. That led to a new ceiling for better acoustics, which led to new plaster and painting — and before you knew it, a full restoration. As part of the restoration South Main Baptist updated their lighting system using ETC’s Source Four LED Series 2 fixtures

When the church started the process of upgrading its lights, “They knew they needed a big shift in design,” says Rob Tegtmeier of CW Lighting & Associates in Houston. The previous lighting rig consisted of one very large Fresnel providing a basic wash for the sanctuary and altar “They were happy with the reliability of the ETC equipment they had for years, but they knew they needed to upgrade to LED fixtures, which would mean a change in their dimming and processing.” 

The church’s leadership also wanted to showcase the beauty of the space. “They wanted the architecture of the space to speak for itself. They didn’t want lighting to distract from it, but to enhance the qualities as much as possible,” says Tegtmeier.  

And he knew just the fixtures to use: ETC’s Source Four LED Series 2 ellipsoidals. The Source Four and its x7 color array was perfect for making sure the church had lighting that looked right throughout the space — even with sunlight streaming in through stained-glass windows. 

Hidden Source Four figures light window coves

“There’s a lot of blue in the stained glass, so making sure you could keep the room warm enough with sunlight coming through blue glass was a high hurdle. Plus, with the paint and wood in the space there was a lot of yellow in the room,” Tegtmeier added. “You need a fixture that’s something special, and the Source Four is that fixture. It made sure we could have color temperature control in the space. Now they can have multiple color temperatures of white without being too blue or too yellow.”

Once the church was happy with the quality of the light, the design team then had to deal with fixture placement. For that, they needed an assist from the architect, Bill Merriman of Merriman Holt Powell Architects. He found space for the fixtures in parts of the ceiling that wouldn’t disturb the molding or painting. It was limited, but it worked. 

“We clustered them together in alcoves within the ceiling, so they’re not nearly as noticeable. It’s a much cleaner look for the space — and the new up-lighting of the dome over the chancel is beautiful. It was very nicely done,” says Merriman. 

As Merriman and his team modeled out the space, Tegtmeier found another way to highlight the architecture. Each of the church’s historic stained-glass windows culminates in a vaulted ceiling with a beautiful blue painting treatment on the ceiling at the top of it. In order to light the vaults Tegtmeier placed Source Four fixtures in unused heating ventilators at the foot of each of the windows. Shutter cuts keep the light on the blue section, enhancing it without overpowering the room. 

“We’re so proud of how beautifully the Sanctuary was restored that we submitted it for a Preservation Award from Preservation Houston, which it won.” Merriman adds. 

Thanks to ETC’s Source Four LED Series 2 fixtures, the South Main Baptist’s past is preserved, but the church is ready for its next chapter.