Corpus Christi's historic restoration took another step forward with the repair and rebuilding of the church's north tower, which began last week. Rebuilding will include removal of the church's copper cupola.
The north tower cupola is more than a century old and damaged beyond repair. It will be dismantled on site. A new cupola, matching the original in materials and design, will be installed and all repairs to the tower stone work will be completed before the end of the 2014 construction season. This project is estimated to cost $612,000.
The proposed project is phase two of a multi-phase, multi-million dollar, five-year Preservation Fund II campaign to restore the main components of the church's exterior envelope. A Facility Assessment Report of the campus in 2004 and an engineering report on the bell/clock towers in 2006 documented most of the required work.
In each case, extensive stone restoration consisting of repointing and rebuilding some areas to prevent weather infiltration, was recommended. In addition, the 2006 report emphasized the need for structural repairs to address the deterioration of the wood and steel sub frame, and stone around the base of the tower's copper dome.
This undertaking is essential to reverse significant deterioration and potentially much more costly remediation to the church exterior, which threatens the building's long-term structural integrity, and ultimately its magnificent interior decoration.
Restoration of the south tower was completed in 2012, due in large part to a major grant from New York state. A second significant state grant is allowing work on the north tower to begin.
"The north tower restoration was 11 years in the making," said Lucy Ederer, president of the Friends of Corpus Christi. "Completing this project will go a long way toward protecting this historic landmark for generations to come."
Local companies were hired for both the north and south tower projects, providing important jobs for Western New Yorkers. All needed work is being performed in accordance with the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Treatment of Historic Properties.
For additional information visit the Corpus Christi website.