Hurricane Hugo, a massive storm that blew through the Charleston area in 1989, knocked down structures large and small. Among the many buildings that fell victim to the cyclone’s wrath was Blessed Sacrament Church on Savannah Highway in West Ashley.
The campus suffered major damage, but perhaps most visible was the loss of two tall steeples that collapsed across the roadway. Insurance money helped pay for most repairs, but not for the replacement of the spires.
Nearly 30 years later, the church can finish that essential detail, thanks to an anonymous $160,000 gift, according to Jack McGovern, director of stewardship at Blessed Sacrament. Another $20,000 will be drawn from parish savings to fund the project.
When after Hugo new steeples were not returned to the towers, a founding member of the church and her family began to set money aside so the restoration might be completed, McGovern said.
"It's something the family has had in their hearts for a number of years now," he said.
The church is waiting for final city approval, but doesn't anticipate any problems, McGovern said. Work has begun, and the steeples likely will be mounted late this year or early next year, McGovern said.
The two spires will be made with bronze-colored fiberglass and closely resemble the originals, church officials told The Catholic Miscellany. The original spires featured a crown topped by a cross, while the new ones will have only a cross.
Once mounted on the existing towers, the total height of the structures, including the crosses at the very top, will reach nearly 130 feet.
“If there is ever another hurricane, these are going to be built not to come down,” Father Joseph Romanoski, the church’s pastor, told The Miscellany.
The new steeples were designed by Gary Boehm of Charleston-based Glick Boehm Architecture. The firm has worked on other projects for the Catholic diocese, including the Beach House building at Christ Our King Church in Mount Pleasant.
The steeples will be manufactured by Fiberglass Specialties in Henderson, Texas, and installed by Sutton Christian Supply of Warner Robbins, Ga.
The project is expected to be finished early next year, ahead of the parish’s 75th anniversary in October 2019 and the 35th anniversary of the perpetual adoration chapel in June. The affiliated Blessed Sacrament Catholic School celebrates its 70th anniversary in September this year.