Historic church being renovated in Hazleton

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HAZLETON, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — A church, modeled after the famed Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City, has been part of a local city’s landscape for nearly a century.

Today, it’s undergoing a million dollar restoration.

“The church was constructed in about 1927. It was recognized as probably the most magnificent church in the Diocese of Scranton back then. The problem is that after almost 100 years of northeastern Pennsylvania weather, the place was falling in on itself. We couldn’t keep the inside dry,” Tom Kennedy, chairman of the capital campaign for RestoreHisChurch.com, said.

“Many instances of failing mortar joints, flashing damage, and even situations where prior temporary repairs have added to the problem,” Keith Rohrbach, St. Gabriel’s Church maintenance and grounds committee member said.

“We had to go up and take out the mortar between all the bricks and the stones, and replace it with good stuff. We have a bunch of fabulous artisans who are working of course on this scaffolding. We observe all of the precautions now, when the church is open. We social distance. We have a limited number of people who can come to church at any one time. But, we were able to start on time (May), and it (COVID) has not interrupted our situation,” Kennedy said. “It (St. Gabriel’s Church) is on the National Register of Historic Places. We have stained glass windows that were built by Franz Mayer from Munich, Germany and New York City. Nobody can compare with them. They are the most gorgeous you’re going to find anywhere in Pennsylvania. We have the largest congregation in the city of Hazleton. We’re the parish that opened its doors to the new immigrants that came to Hazleton. When it is finished, as we say, this building (St. Gabriel’s Church built 1927) will sparkle.
You will not believe it.”

Annunciation Parish is close to hitting their goal. Phase one of the restoration is expected to be complete by the end of October.

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