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Cathedral of Saint Andrew - Renovations

Major Renovations
The first major renovation of the St. Andrew Church structure took place in 1901 after lightning struck the steeple, destroying the parish church in a fire. For two years, renovations on the church were made. This renovation gave the church its basic dimensions: 209 feet long with a ceiling more than 40 feet high. The main steeple is 180 feet from the pavement, topped by a 12 foot high cross, bringing the steeple height to 192 feet. The length of the church was extended to the west and north and south transepts were added. The vaulted ceiling, supported by columns, was erected to cover the charred beams. Additional pews were added to accommodate 1,300 more people. The consecration of the rebuilt church took place on July 4, 1903.
A second restoration occurred from 1961-64 under the direction of Most Reverend Allen J. Babcock. In addition to new wiring and flooring, St. Ambrose Chapel, with its own organ, was erected. In the sanctuary a new altar of black marble, facing the people, was procured; a new pulpit was installed and the altar rail was removed. The sanctuary was expanded better accommodating episcopal ceremonies.
The third major restoration occurred in 1980-81 during Most Reverend Joseph Breitenbeck’s tenure and focused primarily in the sanctuary area. The renovation provided the cathedral with a versatile and expansive space for diocesan as well as parish functions. The baptistery was converted into a vesting room, a commons or gathering space was created, along with an ambry for the sacred oils, and a new baptismal pool in the sanctuary area. A reconciliation room was added to St. Ambrose Chapel.
Due to the aging of the structure a major restoration project took place from 1999-2000 under the leadership of Most Reverend Robert J. Rose. During this time the following renovations occurred: extensive repair and replacement of exterior brick, stones and mortar; re-roofing; complete upgrade, replacement and installation of a fire suppression system; upgrade of electrical system and wiring; installation of a new heating and air conditioning system; restoration of the steeple cross; bas-relief scriptural Stations of the Cross were commissioned; new statues were placed in the renovated reredos; a painting of Our Lady of Guadalupe was commissioned; the ceiling was painted in deep shades of blue featuring gold leaf stars set in the same constellation that would have been present the day the cathedral was consecrated on April 22, 1883; a new baptismal font was placed at the entrance of the cathedral; gothic-style ambries were constructed to house the holy oils and the Book of the Gospels, Book of the Elect, and the Book of the Remembrance; a new altar made of granite and wood was purchased; stained glass windows were cleaned, repaired and reconstructed; the cathedra, bishop’s chair was newly restored. In addition, three new organs were purchased.
In April 2006, Most Reverend Walter A. Hurley commissioned the refurbishing of the Cathedral bells. The bells were originally installed in 1909. On April 10, 1909, The Grand Rapids Herald declared the bells the finest in the state. These bells, ranging in weight from 250 pounds to 3,050 pounds, were manufactured by the McShane Bell Foundry in Baltimore.
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