January 10, 2013 11:15:36 AM
Sarah Fowler - [email protected]
Since 1863, Annunciation Catholic Church has been an integral part of downtown Columbus. The beautiful arches, delicate craftsmanship and intricate stained glass windows are a familiar part of the city and have made the church a historic landmark.
The building, on the corner of College and Eighth Street South, was designated a historical landmark in 2010.
Now, as it approaches its 150th anniversary, the church is restoring the original sanctuary, which is referred to as the Annunciation Chapel.
A new sanctuary was added 10 years ago to accommodate the church's growing congregation. The smaller cathedral is still used for daily mass and smaller concerts, weddings and funerals. However, with a flooding basement and a leaking roof, the church began an expensive and lengthy restoration project.
Father Robert Dore said the last restoration to the church was in 1962.
"Since that time, there has been extensive damage above and below," he said.
The church was awarded a $191,093 grant by the Mississippi Department of Archives and History to replace the roof. Annunciation was required to provide 20-percent in matching funds and the grant stipulated that the roof renovation had to be competed within three years. That deadline proved to be of little importance, though. The roofing project started in December 2011 and was completed in September 2012.
With the new roof complete, scaffolding and a locked fence now line the historic building as additional restorations are underway.
In addition to the roof and the basement, the stained glass windows are receiving a touch up as well.
The 150-year old pieces of glass were removed by hand, loaded onto a truck and transported piece by piece to Philadelphia, Pa., where they are cleaned and restored to their original pristine.
Father Dore does not know when the projects will be completed, but said he expects it to be completed before the 150th celebration. The celebration will be held later this year, although the date has yet to be selected.
Sarah Fowler covered crime, education and community related events for The Dispatch.