DETROIT (WWJ) – The main steeple at St. Josaphat Roman Catholic Church on Canfield, just west of the Chrysler Service Drive in Detroit, is leaning badly after being damaged by high winds during the weekend’s thunderstorms.
According to Joe Kohn, the director of public relations for the Archdiocese of Detroit, the spire may have to be torn down.
The 112-year-old church features a 200-foot tower, including the 10-foot tall cross with the slate weighing about a ton. Experts don’t know if it remains attached or is likely to come sliding and tumbling down.
The surrounding streets, Canfield Street and the Chrysler Freeway Service Drive, have been taped off due to fears that the structure may fall on its own. Officials say the precaution is necessary because the structure could fall into the street.
“It’s definitely a challenge to maintain all of the structures at historic churches in Detroit,” Kohn said as he and crews evaluated the St. Joseph structure along with others across the I-75 freeway including the Sweetest Heart of Mary Church.
“These weren’t damaged in the wind, but before this day started they were more worried about these steeples at Sweetest Heart, than the ones at St. Josaphat,” Kohn said.
Wind gusts of up to 70 mph were tracked in the area during Sunday’s storms, sweeping large branches and in many cases entire trees into power lines. As of Tuesday afternoon, 110,000 residents and businesses across metro Detroit remained without power. That’s down from a high of 302,000.