The St. Andrew’s Catholic Church Steeple/Masonry Restoration Project took place in Roanoke, Virginia. Construction began on March 23rd, 2014, and ended on December 5th, 2014. The principal features were 2 steeples clad in ornamental copper and slate. The approximate cost was $2,400,000 and covered around 2,000 Sq. ft. (the steeples).
One of the main goals of this project was the repair, restoration, and preservation of the historic twin spires of the 118-year-old St. Andrew’s Catholic Church. The structure includes an east and a west steeple. Each steeple consists of a square masonry tower containing a belfry, and a wood framed slate and copper covered steeple towering above the belfry. Combined, St. Andrews stands a mighty 175 feet.
A detailed assessment of the interior and exterior of both steeples was performed and confirmed that both steeples had significant structural deterioration. In addition, both steeples were out of plumb by approximately 10-12 inches at the top of the steeple. A subsequent evaluation determined that the top of the east steeple had drifted and additional 3/8 inch over a 6 month period. Insect damage was also found, although the full extent could not be determined. Based upon these results (both the insect damage and difficulty in re-aligning the steeples), the decision was made to replace the two wood framed steeples with new steel framed steeples and to restore both masonry towers. Steel was used to avoid the risk of future damage from termites and other insects. It should be noted that during this process the 2 steeples were removed and replaced simultaneously. Except for the steel frame, the project was the faithful copy, reproduction, and restoration of the original 1902 architectural design for the two steeples.
In 2020, we also restored the center spire with new 20oz copper. For this phase of the restoration process, the spire as a whole was cut loose of the existing framing and craned to the ground. Once safely secured on the ground, the crew began taking the old copper off and replacing it with newly fabricated pieces. The copper detail work on the spire was replicated throughout the roof to match how it originally looked. Each piece was individually custom fabricated and hand soldered in place to ensure a water tight fit. Our team carefully removed each piece of copper and cataloged them in relation to where they were removed from on the spire and roof. Each new piece was then replicated in the exact size and shape as the original by hand. Most pieces were then hand soldered together for strength and water tightness. As a result, the restored spire has the same quality and workmanship as the original that was installed back in the early 1900s. After the copper was installed, the spire was carefully lifted back into place with a crane onto St. Andrew’s newly restored roof.