January 2009

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This slate steeple roof system was installed by Metalcrafts Inc., Savannah, Ga., on the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Savannah. Metalcrafts performed all the sheet-metal work; the tower is a steel frame that originally was constructed in the 1800s. The slate is hung on steel angles and wired in place; slate work was performed by Kalkreuth Roofing & Sheet Metal Inc., Wheeling, W.Va.

The back side of the slate is "parched" with a bed of mortar to keep the slate from rattling when the wind blows. The copper flashing is original copper, as well as parts that were repaired with prepainted copper. The slate on the tower was completely replaced with new slate.

The Cathedral of St. John the Baptist is the mother church of The Catholic Diocese of Savannah and has a rich history. The first parish was established in the late 1700s when immigrants fleeing Haiti and France established the Congregation de Saint Jean-Baptiste in Savannah. In 1835, Bishop John England placed the cornerstone of what would become the Church of St. John the Baptist on April 1, 1839.

The church was named the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in 1850 after it had been repaired and enlarged in the wake of hurricane damage. A new cathedral was built and dedicated on April 30, 1876, featuring a more ornate French Gothic style. The construction of two spires in 1896 completed the project.

On Feb. 6, 1898, a fire completely destroyed the cathedral except for the outside walls and the two spires. The cathedral was rebuilt and dedicated Oct. 28, 1900.

Through the years, the cathedral has been decorated with artwork and renovated to keep up with the changing times. The most recent renovation—involving the installation of the slate steeple roof system—was a major restoration that began in September 1998 and finished in November 2000, which was just in time to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the diocese and 100th anniversary of the cathedral's rededication.

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