Reconstruction of St. Patrick's Church
The financial prosperity and growth of the city of Toledo during the early 1920s, which was felt by most of the country as well, did not reach St. Patrick's. With decreased attendance came financial woes. At the same time, the church was also in need of repairs. Father Keyes decided that the best way to fund these repairs would be by selling the now abandoned St. Patrick's Cemetery, which had been replaced as the resting place for the parish by Cavalry Cemetery.
With this extra income, the renovation of St. Patrick's began. Changes included the marble floors that surround the altar and walls, new chandeliers and matching wall lights, and the addition of the signature shamrock inlays on the new terrazzo floors throughout the church. A new "Kilgen" organ was added to the choir loft, as well as new altar furniture. Outdoor improvements consisted of updating the front walkway, steps, and retaining walls. Other additions include the donated Stations of the Cross statues that adorn the church, which replaced pictorial representations.
In 1934, the church was the victim of vandalism. The vandals badly damaged the altar and stole various ornate gold objects. Most were recovered a few blocks away. Despite the vandalism, Mass was held the following Sunday.
In 1937, the last of the early renovations was completed as the cross on top of the spire was replaced due to damage. The new cross was made of wood and sheathed in copper and gold leaf. When completed, it was slightly smaller than the original galvanized steel cross that it replaced.
Renovation Projects, 1940s-2006
In what would prove to be a tremendous bargain, Monsignor Schmit discovered three slabs of marble in a local junkyard. Schmit was able to purchase the three slabs for a mere $21.00. They would become the altar currently in use at St. Patrick's Church. The altar would not go unscathed, as in 1974 a scaffolding set up to make emergency repairs to glass high above the church came crashing down on the altar.
The 1980s found the church in financial crisis again. In 1984, the church created The Society for the Preservation of St. Patrick's Church in an attempt to bring back wayward parishioners and gain much-needed money for repairs. The society proved very adept at regaining lost parishioners, in addition to new members from Toledo’s Irish and Catholic communities. One of the first major repairs was to the church’s heating and cooling facilities, followed by the cleaning and restoration of the stained glass windows and updating of the nearly 100-year-old light fixtures. Later projects included remodeling the sacristy, removing pews at the rear of the church, restoring the louvers in the bell tower, and the construction of a new reconciliation room inside the church.
In 1972, the National Park Service added St. Patrick's Church to the National Register of Historic Places. In 1987, after years of controversy and various name changes, the name of St. Patrick's Church was officially changed to the Historic Church of St. Patrick. The name remains today. In 1991, the church was awarded a plaque of excellence by the Maumee Valley Historical Society for their continued efforts to maintain the church while "everything around it has been demolished or rebuilt."
History of the St. Patrick's Steeple
The Historic St. Patrick's Church was originally constructed with a galvanized steel spire and steeple. Due to the height of the church, as well as the metallic covering of the newer cross, the landmark topping of the church was prone to lightning strikes. There have been at least four strikes, with the last recorded instance occurring in 1998.
A lightning strike in 1954 shorted out the electric organ. The next strike would prove to be the most catastrophic. On September 9, 1980, the cross at the top of the steeple was hit. When the lightning struck, the copper sheathing around the wooden cross fused the copper to the cross and a fire ensued. Due to the height of the steeple, the local fire department was unable to put out the fire before the steeple was completely destroyed. The fire department was able to minimize the damage to the church, however, and most of the destruction was limited to the steeple and the roof. The organ also suffered water damage.
After the most recent lightning strike in 1998, the church was retrofitted with a lightning protection system.
Following the 1980 fire, St. Patrick’s was without a steeple for almost a generation. In September of 2007, the steeple was re-attached to the church in a Skybreaking Gala.
2006-2007 Renovation Projects
After more than a century of service and ever-changing Toledo weather, St. Patrick's was beginning to show its age. Cracks were forming in the ceiling and on the walls, the brilliant stained glass windows were not as vibrant, and the many statues within the church were beginning to fade.
After discussion and debate in 2006, a full scale renovation of the church began. Almost every single aspect of the church, both inside and out, was to be renovated or improved. The majority of the funding was provided by the estate of Margaret Kennedy Hays Tank, a lifelong parishioner who passed away in 2006. A statue in her honor was placed in the Memorial Garden next to the church.
On June 10, 2007, a Mass of Thanksgiving was given to celebrate the restoration of the church. In September of that year, St. Patrick’s held a Mass of Thanksgiving to commemorate the firefighters who fought the 1980 fire. Leonard Blair, Bishop of Toledo, presided over the Mass, which included a full choir; harpist (Denise Grupp-Verbon); the Academy Brass Quintet; the Church Organist (Terry Brassell); as well as Pipes and drums bagpipers from the Toledo Fire Fighters. A "skybreaking" was held on September 15 of that year to celebrate the return of the steeple to the historic church. The organ was blessed in a Mass held on October 21, and the inaugural organ concert was held on October 23.
Below are pictures of the renovations.
St. Patrick’s had been without its signature steeple for almost 27 years when a replacement was set atop the church on September 6, 2007. It was built by Campbellsville Industries – the self-proclaimed "steeple people" – of Campbellsville, KY. The steeple measures more than 89 feet in height and weighs almost 12 tons. Including the cross at the top, the church is almost 250 feet tall and is easily recognizable from freeways, streets, and areas outside of the city.
The new steeple was given an "aged" finish so that it would not stand out from the 105-year-old monument built by Father Hannin. Most of the project was covered by funds donated to the church after the passing of Margaret Hays Tank, a lifelong member of St. Patrick’s. A statue honoring Mrs. Tank sits in the Memorial Garden outside of the church. Other funds were collected through weekly tithes and church fundraisers.
Historic St. Patrick's Church, 2007
With the $3 million renovation nearly complete, the Historic Church of St. Patrick has almost returned to normal. On June 10, a Mass of Thanksgiving was given to celebrate the restoration of the church. Events held later in 2007 commemorated the firefighters who fought the fire that ensued after the steeple and spire were hit by lightning, a "Skybreaking Gala" was held on September 15 when the new steeple was placed on top of the church, the organ was blessed in a Mass on October 21, and the inaugural organ concert was held on October 23.
On June 10, 2007, a Mass of Thanksgiving for the Restoration of the Church, presided over by Bishop of Toledo Leonard Blair, occurred at the newly renovated church. The Mass included a full choir, harpist (Denise Grupp-Verbon), the Academy Brass Quintet, the Church Organist (Terry Brassell), as well as Pipes and drums bagpipers supplied to the church from the Toledo Fire Fighters.