Milan Restoration’s Marko Golubovic Brings His Art and Skill To Old First

Marko Golubovic, whose family firm Milan Church Restoration has been selected to repair the Old First sanctuary ceiling, wraps the Old First pews before the work begins. Photo by Vera Niewenhuis

“A few months ago, we did the stations of the Cross for St. Mary’s Church in Manchester, New Hampshire. We completely restored the old church and a couple of ladies walked in and started crying.”

This from church restoration artist Marko Golubovic, who is in the process of bringing all of us at Old First to tears as well. His company, Milan Restoration, has been chosen to repair, clean and paint our sanctuary ceiling. The area has been closed since the discovery of falling and compromised plaster five years ago.

The Woodbridge, N.J.-based firm works exclusively with churches. In 30 years, they’ve restored 312 buildings. Marko is a native of Croatia. 

The crying ladies, and the genuine appreciation over the final result, is what makes it all worth it for Marko.

“That’s the best part of the job,” he says. “People walk in and see the transformation; how everything came together.”

Like his father before him, Marko attended architectural school in Europe. His dad’s best friend was a third-generation mason who worked only on churches. Marco and his father worked with him, eventually creating a company dedicated specifically to church restoration.

“A good fifteen-to-twenty years later, this is all we do,” Marko says, “all over the Northeast.”

Milan Church Restoration is a family owned and operated company, established in 1987.

Milan Restoration is a one-stop shop for church restoration needs, from the minor details to the sublime.

“We have a small woodworking shop in Pennsylvania, near Allentown, that my father runs,” Marko says, “and we do stained glass there. My parents live there and we bought a property with a shop where we do woodwork and stained glass.”

As of mid-January, the Milan crew is setting up the staging, bridging, and scaffolding. Also being created: a platform so the work could be done on the ceiling.

“Next we’ll be taking some pieces off that are loose,” Marko says, “creating the mold and samples to match the existing ones, for the approvals. And once we start getting approvals, we start making all the molds.”

Sound like a plan? Of course, all plans don’t come without a few challenges.

“The main challenge will be drilling all the holes,” Marko says. “It’s more time-consuming than other tasks. The good thing about this project is that we still have all these existing moldings that we can copy and reproduce.”

Marko’s most frequent requests: interior design, painting, plaster restoration, and stenciling.

Milan Church Restoration setting up scaffolding in the Old First sanctuary. Photo by Vera Niewenhuis.

“We do everything in house so our crew stays with us for a while,” Marko says. “This way, we can take care of the whole church. Like right now, in Westbury, New York, we are restoring the entire interior: pews, floors, painting, stencil work and art work. We also do the exterior part too: the roofs, the towers, and the stained glass.”

The work, begun this month, is expected to take four or five months to complete. After being closed for five years, is it possible that the sanctuary will be open to us in time for Christmas?

“Oh, sure, absolutely,” Marko says. “We’re shooting for [the ceiling restoration portion of the job to be completed by] mid-May.” 

Now that the work has begun, the steering committee is turning its focus to the flooring and the pews. In fact, once the floors and pews are completed, that will be the conclusion of Phase 1 of the restoration. What remains (and may very well be completed after we move back into the sanctuary): windows, painting, electricity, and heating.

We all look forward to the final result and the Christmas miracle of being officially back in the sanctuary by December. In the meantime, we continue to repair, restore, and discover.

“It’s a fun project, definitely,” Marko says.

Click here to find out more about Milan Restoration.

Marko and crew cover the Old First pews with protective wrap before beginning the work. Photo by Vera Niewenhuis

Marko works with the Milan crew to set up scaffolding in the Old First sanctuary. Photo by Vera Niewenhuis