Home Us church St. Roch’s Church project in Greenwich preserves what was built with ‘loving hands’

St. Roch’s Church project in Greenwich preserves what was built with ‘loving hands’

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GREENWICH — Ongoing renovations to the iconic stone exterior of St. Roch’s Church, whose roots can be traced to Italian immigrant stonemasons who helped build the community of Greenwich, are expected to be completed in time for the church’s impending 100th anniversary.

“Stone buildings, if properly maintained, can last indefinitely,” Dan FitzPatrick, chairman of the parish’s financial advisory board that oversees the work, told Greenwich Times this week. “The problem is making sure there is proper maintenance. We live in a climate which can be harsh during the winters and we have storms coming in. Water can seep between the stones and crack it , so you have to maintain it.

All that rain and snow has wreaked havoc on the exterior and can create leaks inside the building. Over the years, “well-intentioned” but not necessarily effective measures have been taken to fix the problem in the short term, such as using cement instead of mortar to make repairs, FitzPatrick said.

Many of these repairs “unfortunately ended up exacerbating the problem”, so the goal of this project, which it would cost only “seven figures”, is to shore up the exterior and fix the leaks while assuring that it will be decades before further work. is necessary.

“We had to do something,” FitzPatrick said. The church hired Shelton-based engineering firm Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates to carry out a comprehensive survey of the building and determine the necessary fixes. These recommendations formed the basis of the privately funded project.

Work started in the summer of 2021 and is now almost complete.

“It was like going to the doctor,” FitzPatrick said. “First the doctor diagnoses and then prescribes. What we have learned from the past is that you have to understand how the building breathes and functions, as well as seeing what is important and what needs repairs.

“Without that, we would most likely have done a repair job that would not have been ideal. We wanted to get it right and give us decades of use,” he said. “We had to fix the exterior before doing anything else.”

The church, famous for its annual Saint-Roch feast, has played a vital role in the community since its official opening in 1928 after several years of construction. The church has ties to Morra de Sanctis, an Italian province east of Naples. Over the generations, many residents of this area have settled in Greenwich, which also has a sister town relationship.

According to the history of the church, Roman Catholics from Chickahominy once traveled to Byram to attend church until the diocese decided to build a church in the neighborhood. By the time the church site was purchased in 1918, the neighborhood was filled with Italian masons and stonemasons who soon became the center of the forming parish.

The foundation was built with stone from the Byram Quarry, which also provided the stone for the base of the Statue of Liberty and the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge.

This work was done with “loving hands,” FitzPatrick said, and it has connected the church to the community for generations.

The Chapel of St. Roch was consecrated on May 14, 1922. But with much work to do, including replacing the makeshift roof that was put in place, it was not until 1928 that the complete church was been completed.

The ongoing repair project included repointing the stonework of the church, with particular emphasis on repairing the wear and tear on the north facade; repair of the bell tower roof; fix the west and east side steps; and replacement of the pedestal of the statue of Saint-Roch.

The repairs to the bell tower have not been completed and the decorative elements still need to be redone. That work may have to wait, due to product availability, until November, he said.

“Hopefully we can ring our bell once we get it open,” FitzPatrick said. “And we couldn’t do that in the memory of the people I spoke to. It has been a long time. We hope to do so. It would be very fun to do.

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