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Cathedral of Saint Andrew - Interesting Facts

Interesting Facts
• The first Saint Andrew Church was built on Monroe Avenue in 1850. It was dedicated on August 11, 1850. It was and continues to be referred to as the “old stone church”.
• The church bell, purchased in 1869, played both the secular – fire calls – and the spiritual – especially the Angelus, three times daily. It was later installed in the “new” church on Sheldon Ave. The bell cracked in 1901, severely limiting its ability to ring out.
• The cornerstone for the current Saint Andrew Church structure was laid on May 30, 1875. One and a half years later the building was completed. Saint Andrew Church was dedicated on December 17, 1876
• The foundation of the current Saint Andrew Church was built with limestone from the Grand River used originally in the “old stone church” on Monroe Avenue. To support the structure of the building, the foundation was laid 11 feet deep and 3 to 8 feet thick.
• The architecture of the cathedral is Gothic and is characterized by pointed arches and vaulted ceilings.
• In 1882, by papal brief, the Diocese of Grand Rapids was formed.
• Most Reverend Henry J. Richter was named bishop of the diocese. He selected Saint Andrew Church to be the cathedral.
• On April 22, 1883, Bishop Richter was installed bishop of the Diocese of Grand Rapids and the church officially became the Cathedral of Saint Andrew, Mother Church of the diocese.
• The building originally measured 136 feet long and 59 feet wide. It currently measures 209 feet in length.
• Sunday evening, March 24, 1901 lightening hit the steeple at 9:30 pm during a parish Mission. The initial check revealed no damage, but by 2:00 am the church was in flames.
• After the fire of 1901, the building took on its characteristic cross shape when the north and south transepts were added.
• During the restoration of 1901, the one lower spire on the south side of the church was replaced with two small spires. The highest spire measures 192 feet and includes the 95 foot tower walls, the 85 foot steeple and the 12 foot gilded cross with arms that extend 3 ½ feet each way. The steeples are covered with slate.
• Ten bells were installed in the tower in 1909. On April 10, 1909, The Grand Rapids Herald declared the bells the finest in the state. Made of copper and tin, they weigh between 250 pounds to 3,050 pounds. They were manufactured by the McShane Bell Foundry in Baltimore. As was custom, each bell was named:
    Bell No. 1 – St Cecilia (paid for by the Altar Society at a cost of $1,225)
    Bell No. 2 – St. Patrick (paid for by the Holy Name Society a cost of $850)
    Bell No. 3 – Holy Guardian Angels (paid for by school children at a cost of $610)
    Bell No. 4 – St. Ann (paid for by Mrs. Ann McIntyre at a cost of $500)
    Bell No. 5 – St. Joseph (paid for by Mrs. Archibald McDonnell at a cost of $375)
    Bell No. 6 – St. Richard (paid for by Mr. and Mrs. Richard Kibble at a cost of $800)
    Bell No. 7 – Immaculate Conception (paid for by the Young Ladies Sodality at a cost of $250)
    Bell No. 8 – St. John (paid for by Mrs. Catherine Byrne at a cost of $225)
    Bell No. 9 – St. Mary Leonessa (paid for the Wernette and Neuman families at a cost of $200)
    Bell No. 10 – St. Anthony (paid for by Friends of St. Anthony at a cost of $175)
• In the decade or so following the installation of the bells, the stained glass windows were installed.
• In April of 2006 the cathedral bells were removed for restoration. The bells were refurbished and reinstalled in fall 2006 with the estimated value of $300,000.
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