Tower cross returns to Motherhouse this week

February 23, 2009 by

A worker from Geisler Roofing in Concordia removes the cross from atop the seven-story tower at the Motherhouse on Sept. 24, 2008.

A worker from Geisler Roofing in Concordia removes the cross from atop the seven-story tower at the Motherhouse on Sept. 24, 2008.

Roughly five months after being removed from its place of honor atop the 110-foot tower of the Sisters of St. Joseph Motherhouse in Concordia, the distinctive metal-clad cross will soon be gracing the historic building again.

Geisler Roofing of Concordia was called in last September to remove the cross, along with its base and decorative “crown” piece — which together measure nearly 6-feet tall — after workers at the Motherhouse discovered water damage to the cross and the surrounding structure.

It was believed to have been the first time the 107-year-old red brick building had been without its cross. When the Nazareth Convent and Academy was built in 1902, the metal cross was mounted over an 8X8 timber that extended up through the roof. And while the main part of the building is five stories tall, the tower that the cross caps reaches into the sky two more stories.

Geisler workers began the process of restoring the cross — made of a light-weight “bonderized” metal that resists rust and corrosion. Then Jim Helton, who this year is celebrating his 30th anniversary as a maintenance worker at the Motherhouse, took over the work of repairing and strengthening the original metalwork. The final step was a new coat of paint that mimics the appearance of the stone on the building.

Today (Feb. 23) members of the Sisters of St. Joseph will have their first chance to see the repaired and refurbished cross, and they will be able to sign the inside surfaces. Then, on Friday (Feb. 27) it will be blessed in a special Mass at the Motherhouse.

Soon after that, workers from Geisler Roofing will return to put it back where it belongs, said Greg Gallagher, facilities administrator at the Motherhouse.

“Every time I drive in, my eye goes right there, to where it should be,’ Gallagher said recently. “The building just isn’t complete without it.”

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