N.Y. town's 123-year-old steeple won't come down

May 12, 2013 at 1:53 PM
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WATERVLIET, N.Y., May 12 (UPI) -- People in Watervliet, N.Y., have cheered the failed efforts to topple the 137-foot-tall steeple of the former St. Patrick's Church, a citizen's group says.

Angela Mastan, active with the group Citizens for St. Patrick, which fought the demolition of the 123-year-old Roman Catholic church in Watervliet, near Albany, told the Albany Times Union, "She's giving them a fight."

The demolition of the church belonging to the Diocese of Albany has drawn criticism from parishioners and the public. As the steeple remains upright, the crowds appeared to be growing daily to root for the steeple that has been a prominent part of the Watervliet skyline.

The tower cables used to pull down the top of the tower snapped Friday, just as they did Thursday, amid the cheering from the crowds of people.

"It's divine intervention," Cassandra Wellworth, who grew up in the church, told the Times Union. "I think they misunderstood the stability of this tower."

The church, which was razed because the Diocese of Albany said it didn't have the $4 million for the repairs needed, has already been torn down, but the steeple stubbornly remains.

The tower was modeled after the church at the Grotto of Lourdes in France. Historians said the church was built using steel girders. It is being demolished to make way for a Price Chopper supermarket and its parking lot.

Nigro Companies, which has torn the church down for the salvage, said in a statement: "Our main concern has been, and remains, to do this work safely and with as little impact as possible to the surrounding community. This is why the pace of the work has been deliberate and step-wise and why we have used exclusively mechanical means to carry it out. We will continue to coordinate our work closely with Watervliet city officials. We appreciate the community's patience."

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