Fight to save spires on historic Waterbury church

News

It is considered to be one of the iconic sights when you drive into Waterbury; the majestic spires of the Shrine of Saint Anne for Mothers, that pierce the skyline.

St. Anne’s Church has been a big part of The Brass City for more than a hundred years.

“This is something the city is very proud of,” said Andy Michaud of Waterbury. “It’s heritage for 114 years and it needs to be saved.”

Michaud is part of a group of Waterbury residents fighting to save St. Anne’s spires.

“It’s very disheartening,” Michaud said. “I don’t believe the damage is as bad as they say that it is.”

The Archdiocese of Hartford has made the decision to remove the spires, at least temporarily. Since December, on three different occasions, chunks of marble have separated from the spires, crashing to the ground below. Scaffolding is preventing those chunks from hitting pedestrians.

Deacon Paul Iadarola, who’s in charge of repairs for the local All Saints Parish, blames water damage in the spires.

Related: Falling church stones close streets in Waterbury

“They have disintegrated as the cement and mortar have deteriorated to the point where we can’t salvage it anymore,” he said.

But, Michaud and others, don’t think the damage is as bad as they’re being told. 

“Show me the proof that this church is so badly damaged that the spires need to come down,” Michaud said.

He said there’s been a lack of transparency from the archdiocese. Waterbury State Rep. Geraldo Reyes, Jr. agrees. 

“Case in point is the Trinity Church, which was taken down by the Archdiocese and I don’t believe that has been transparent enough,” said Rep. Reyes. “It has been very negatively received.”

Deacon Iadarola showed News 8 some of the deterioration in the spires by showing us some recent chunks of marble that fell off the towers.

“We’re looking at pieces of the marble that chipped off and how it turns to dust when you touch it,” the Deacon said. “This is telling me that we’re having another problem with the West tower more advanced than we were expecting.”

Related: Baby Jesus stolen from Waterbury church

The Deacon says his goal is to replace the spires. He says it could cost at least $2 to $4 million, but he won’t know for sure until he receives exact numbers from engineering reports. He also says it’s up to the Parish to raise the money. 

Michaud is skeptical. “Once those spires come down they’re never ever going back up,” Michaud said.

Deacon Iadarola says once the cost estimates come in, he will hold meetings with parishioners and the community to alleviate any concerns about transparency. He said the decision to at least temporarily remove the spires is a tough one. 

He does say there is good news when it comes to the church reopening. They’re targeting Father’s Day for that.

The spires will have protective netting wrapped around them to safeguard against anymore crumbling slabs of marble.

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