Historic Sacred Heart Catholic Church, founded in 1887, had a problem. Termite damage had compromised the supporting timber structure of the bell tower in which hung their beloved ring of bells. The four bells, weighing 3,300 pounds together, posed a significant risk of falling if rung and the bell tower and main entrance had to been closed for more than a year prior to the restoration.
An engineering study, completed by Highers, Koonce and Associates, was necessary to ensure the structural integrity of the historic church. Brindley Construction's Tim Rohling was project manager. He is a member of the Sacred Heart parish and his ancestors helped establish the church.
In order to remove the bells safely, shoring had to be installed and the louvers removed. The brickwork surrounding the openings was very delicate and had to be removed to prevent damage. With the bells removed, epoxy was applied to the remaining brick, rebar was installed and concrete poured for lintels to support the structure. Steel beams were then installed to support the bells upon re-installation. With Sacred Heart School preschool students looking on at a safe distance, the bells were raised once again and they now ring out as before.
As always, project safety was paramount, and church and school functions were able to continue normally while the restoration was accomplished. Seventy-five percent of the work was performed by Brindley personnel and the restoration project was completed below budget and on time in just four months.
This project was awarded the 2008 Regional Excellence in Construction Award by the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) of North Alabama.