Less than a week after engineers deemed it structurally unsafe, officials with St. Paul’s Cathedral say badly-needed repairs to the church’s wooden trusses will continue but with the addition of new supports and bracing.
The 170-year-old church, the city’s oldest, has been undergoing a $1 million restoration after cathedral officials discovered early this year that water seepage had severely rotted and weakened the joints and ends of the structure’s trusses, putting extra strain on the walls.
In order to help fund the expensive repairs and other fixes, and to save the structure’s walls and roof, the church launched ‘Project Jericho’ to solicit donations from the community.
The hope was to have the work finished this month, but on Friday, an inspection found that some of the trusses were more deteriorated than previously expected, and that “splitting/cracking has occurred, putting additional pressure on the internal structure and supports on the wall,” said a post made Saturday on the church’s website.
Following the discovery, the cathedral’s nave was deemed off-limits, and repairs were put on pause until next steps could be determined.
After meeting with the engineer and others involved in the restoration, church officials have been advised that repairs can continue, said Bishop Barry Clark.
“The repairs … will continue by adding additional braces and steel chords to hold the trusses together and putting up 20 more shores in the church from the base of the floor to support that for the work to continue,” Clark said, adding that they were pleased by the news “because we had no idea what the engineers would report back to us.”
“That was a piece of good news after all the shock of the weekend.”
Clark says the repairs are now slated to finish in February, meaning worshipers will continue to gather in the adjacent Cronyn Hall and St. Aidan’s Chapel until then.
“It has been upsetting (for people) on the one hand,” Clarke continued, “but on the other hand, after we prepared for worship for Sunday this past weekend, we set up everything in Cronyn Hall … there was a real sense of people rallying together to support one another, and to say ‘we’re going to walk through this together and pray we will be stronger when we have come to the end of this journey.”
In a media release Thursday, the church said the “change in direction” will see costs for ‘Project Jericho’ increase, but not significantly.
“The leadership is optimistic this will stop any further deterioration and are confident the work can proceed in a timely fashion,” said the release, which also noted that the additional shores will provide additional structural support should London receive a substantial amount of snowfall between now and February.
Church officials hope to raise between $700,000 and $800,000 to meet their fundraising goal and save the walls and roof of the cathedral.
“The fundraising continues, it hasn’t stopped,” said Clark. “We haven’t reached our goal yet, but with hope and prayer, we will pay for this work with the generosity of so many people within the community and outside the community, and for that we’re grateful.”
More information on ‘Project Jericho’ can be found here.