Traverse City Record-Eagle


June 10, 2014

Storm-damaged church steeple nearly restored

DETROIT (AP) — Restoration is nearly complete on a more than 200-foot-high church steeple near downtown Detroit, which was feared beyond repair after high winds heavily damaged it six months ago.

The 113-year-old St. Josaphat Roman Catholic Church building is expected to reopen in the coming weeks, the Detroit Free Press reported ( ) Monday. Church officials thought they would have to permanently remove the structure after the November storm whipped up gusts of 70 mph.

“The whole tower was moving back and forth. It was moving at least a foot,” roofer Robert Maxwell said.

Workers have installed new shingles, four wooden floors and a metal bracket, along with crisscrossing cables for stability. Structural engineer Erik Majcher said the steeple should withstand wind gusts of at least 110 mph.

“It’s really been fortified. The steeple isn’t going anywhere for another 113 years,” said Kevin Piotrowski, council president Mother of Divine Mercy Parish, which includes St. Josaphat.

“It’s far stronger than it was when it was built.”

The church, which has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1982, was condemned by the city after the storm.

Officials say about $90,000 has been raised for the restoration, with donors ranging from passersby to Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson.

Still, costs could reach $500,000, and it’s unclear how much insurance money will come in.

Piotrowski said parishioners and officials are keeping the faith.

“When they built this place 113 years ago, they didn’t have all the money, but they had faith,” he said. “We’re kind of right back to that.”


Information from: Detroit Free Press,

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