Five 9,000-pound blocks of sandstone will be hoisted into the air by crane on Aug. 22 to replace a damaged portion of the Basilica of St. Josaphat on Milwaukee's south side.
The landmark Catholic church, built in 1901 with materials from an old post office in Chicago, is in the midst of $2.5 million worth of urgent repairs that began in May to address deterioration on its stone roof ledges.
The stones were originally scheduled to be installed on Thursday, but problems with the crane forced Basilica leaders to push back the restoration project until after the weekend.
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The massive sandstone blocks were mined from the same quarry in Ohio as the basilica's original masonry.
"The stones need to be replaced to slow the loss of building ornamentation, prevent water infiltration, improve safety from falling pieces and restore the decorative elements," reads a statement released by the St. Josaphat Basilica Foundation Wednesday. "It will also prevent further deterioration and damage of the priceless artworks on the interior ceilings and walls of the Basilica."
Crews will also add lights to the church that will highlight its 250-foot dome and arched windows at night.
The project is the first phase of a larger $7.5 million restoration initiative started by the St. Josaphat Basilica Foundation to address deterioration and structural concerns at the church, which is considered one of the city's most significant architectural assets.
The Basilica Foundation said wear on the church has reached "epic proportions," and needs to be addressed immediately to preserve its legacy and protect its historic designation. The basilica is listed as both a local and national historic landmark.
The sandstone blocks are expected to be lifted into place between 9:30 a.m. and 10 a.m. on Monday, Aug. 22. The Basilica is located at 601 W. Lincoln Ave.
According to the Basilica Foundation, around 50,000 visitors come to St. Josaphat each year, some from places around the world such as Turkey, Australia, Brazil, India, Korea, France and Chile.