By Mary Lynn Powersh
GREENVILLE – After 110 years, St. Joseph Church is receiving a new roof, thanks to the generosity of a parishioner’s estate. The roof which is slate-based tile is being replaced with genuine slate with a barrier underneath to help protect the church within from any water damage.
For some time now, the parishioners have been raising money for these repairs. The leaks have gotten more numerous as time has passed. Unfortunately, the century-old nails holding the tiles have rusted, causing the tiles to become dislodged. Tiles have fallen or just become barely hanging.
The spire, which is 126 feet high, was struck by lightning in 1915 and burned. One fearless fireman scaled the spire to rescue the cross on the top. For this repair, workers use a crane with a basket to get to the roof. They cut and hang each tile individually from the basket.
The church was completed in 1908 and financied by Father Paul Korstenbroek, a Dutch nobleman prior to entering the priesthood. It contains 16 exceptional mouth-blown stained glass windows in the Munich Pictorial Style, created by the Emile Frei Studios of Munich, Germany. In 2015, St. Joseph Church was added to the National Register of Historic Places.
A major restoration in 2007/2008 to the interior of the church included new paint, new interior and exterior doors, and the updated sound and lighting systems. Additionally, the side altars, which had been walled closed after Vatican II, were opened and restored. The Rose window in the front of the ediface, which had come from a little frame church built in 1874 on the Main Street location, was removed and restored. Many other small but important updates were made at that time.
This restoration on the church will take about four months to complete and the parish community looks forward to another one hundred years of service.
(Mary Lynn Powers is a member of the restoration committee at Greenville St. Joseph Parish.)