The association for the protection of the cultural heritage (HPV) Laces visited the Saint Nicholas Church as part of its plenary assembly in 2006 and immediately realized that it was in a bad condition. „It is, after all, our task to preserve cultural heritage in Laces and so we began to work. We didn’t know that it would be such a big project in the end. At first, we only wanted to save the Saint Nicholas Church from dilapidation,“ explains Hannes Gamper, former president of the HPV.
At the beginning, the HPV started to work on its own and removed the mold from the interior. After a first evaluation it became clear that a separate work group was needed for this task to be able to continue the HPV’s normal activity in parallel. This work group consisted of Hannes Gamper, the driving force of the project, the current president Joachim Schwarz, member of the municipal council Mauro Dalla Barba and architect Klaus Marsoner. First of all, the future purpose of the church had to be determined in consultation with the Office for the Preservation of Historical Monuments. As the church has been property of the municipality since 1811, the jointly developed project was presented to the municipal council where it got the unanimous assignment to restore the church. The first construction lot included the dehumidification, the lowering of the entrance area to the original level and the renovation of the external walls. A new and deeper drainage ditch had to be dug and a new enclosing wall was built due to the enduring humidity. These works could be completely financed thanks to financial contributions from the province, donations from the „Friends of the Saint Nicholas Church“ association and support from the Cassa di Risparmio di Bolzano Foundation.
In 2008, Manfred Fuchs, honorary citizen of Laces, donated a stained-glass window with the representation of St. Nicholas of Myra. The stained-glass window was made by artist Robert Scherer and is an important enhancement of the Saint Nicholas Church. In 2016, the church was completely restored inside as well. „Further frescoes were found in the church and a steel floor with ventilation system was installed above the old, already existing floor. We were able to finance these works with financial assistance from Cassa Rurale di Laces, the Office for the Preservation of Historical Monuments, the Fuchs family, Frazione di Laces and the municipal administration. In the end, the total costs of this complex project amounted to 180,000.00 euros,“ informs Hannes Gamper. At that time, it had already been decided to exhibit the Laces menhir in the Saint Nicholas Church. The HPV had reflected for years about where and how to best present the Laces menhir. The association for the protection of the cultural heritage decided together with the municipal administration and the parish that the restored Saint Nicholas Church would offer the perfect ambience for exhibiting this precious menhir. The Saint Nicholas Church has hosted „The Laces Menhir“ exhibition since 2017. This exhibition was realized with financial means of EU’s INTERREG V – Italy-Austria program as part of a small-scale project of the CLLD strategy. The partner institution was the Archaeological Museum in Fließ. Together they convey a part of „Cults and Life in prehistory “. (Text by Rudi Mazagg published in the „InfoForum“ Laces)