107-year-old cross back at top of Motherhouse tower

March 25, 2009 by

This morning, against bright blue skies, workers from Geisler Roofing Inc. began the process by installing the base and crown over the 8X8 post atop the tower.

This morning, against bright blue skies, workers from Geisler Roofing Inc. began the process by installing the base and crown over the 8X8 post atop the tower.

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 now graces 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.

Staff members and Sisters of St. Joseph — many with cameras —  gather outside the Motherhouse in Concordia Wednesday morning to watch the 107-year-old “tower cross” be returned to its place of honor at the very top of the seven-story tower.

Staff members and Sisters of St. Joseph — many with cameras — gather outside the Motherhouse in Concordia Wednesday morning to watch the 107-year-old “tower cross” be returned to its place of honor at the very top of the seven-story tower.

It was believed to have been the first time the 107-year-old red brick building, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places,  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.

This afternoon, Geisler workers returned to the roof to replace the cross — despite a breeze that stiffened as the day went on.

The roughly 6-foot tall cross and base are made of a lightweight “bonderized” metal that resists rust and corrosion.  Jim Helton, who this year is celebrating his 30th anniversary as a maintenance worker at the Motherhouse, did most of 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.

Geisler Roofing’s Rocky Lefort puts the finishing touches on the 107-year-old refurbished cross that he replaced atop the Sisters of St. Joseph Motherhouse tower Wednesday afternoon. Lefort was also the one who removed the cross last September so it could be repaired and strengthened.

Geisler Roofing’s Rocky Lefort puts the finishing touches on the 107-year-old refurbished cross that he replaced atop the Sisters of St. Joseph Motherhouse tower Wednesday afternoon. Lefort was also the one who removed the cross last September so it could be repaired and strengthened.

In late February, members of the Sisters of St. Joseph and employees at the Concordia Motherhouse were allowed to sign the side surfaces of the base, and then the cross was blessed in a special Mass on Feb. 27.

The historic Sisters of St. Joseph Motherhouse is a landmark in Concordia — and even more so now that its tower cross has been replaced by Rocky Lefort, in red, standing some 110 feet off the ground Wednesday afternoon. Motherhouse groundskeeper Eric McDaniel, at right, pays no attention to the drama above him.

The historic Sisters of St. Joseph Motherhouse is a landmark in Concordia — and even more so now that its tower cross has been replaced by Rocky Lefort, in red, standing some 110 feet off the ground Wednesday afternoon. Motherhouse groundskeeper Eric McDaniel, at right, pays no attention to the drama above him.

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