It was quite a sight! The cross on top of the 100-foot high bell tower at Sacred Heart of Jesus Church on Canal Street was leaning so badly when we first saw it in May it seemed ready to fall at any moment. The terra cotta roof tiles were falling, broken pieces littering the ground.
"I was shocked, I couldn't believe it," neighbor Jeanne Sciortino said then. "Not my Sacred Heart on Canal Street!"
When I contacted them, the Archdiocese reacted immediately, using warning tape to keep people away from the bell tower.
"Really your picture was the first time we had seen it, and so we moved very quickly to secure the area, make sure it was safe for the neighbors," said Archdiocese spokeswoman Sarah McDonald.
An aerial photo showed just how badly the roof on the century-old bell tower was failing. The cross and the old roof were removed, and then Ray Brothers Roof and Wall Systems designed and built a new copper roof on an aluminum frame.
"We measured it, got the measurements, built it on the ground, and got it up there, pretty much," said Ray Brothers, Inc. President Gino Ray, who added that it weighed about 4,000 pounds."
Their drone captured the complex operation using a crane to raise the two-ton roof 100 feet up to the top of the bell tower.
"We had good people working with us," Ray said. "It made a big difference in this neighborhood. Thank you."
"It was about a $100,000 job to put the new roof on the bell tower at Sacred Heart," McDonald said.
It's a great roof, and it's beautiful, and I just hope that the church comes back," Jeanne Sciortino said while beaming.
Unfortunately, I don't have good news there. The Archdiocese does not have plans at this time to reopen Sacred Heart.