14-foot-copper cross removed from Memorial Presbyterian Church

A major landmark in St. Augustine looks different today. Work crews and two cranes removed the big copper cross atop the dome of the Memorial Presbyterian church this morning.

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- Friday morning, two cranes, roped-off streets and lots of activity on the ground set the scene for a rescue of a cross in the sky.

"This is a major undertaking," Andy Brown said. He is the business administrator at Memorial Presbyterian Church.

The 14-foot-tall cross at Memorial Presbyterian church in St. Augustine toppled during Hurricane Irma and it has been laying on the dome for nearly 2 months.

"I just think this is so neat," Karen Harvey said. She is an author and church member. She couldn’t miss watching the workmen remove and lower the cross.

"I remember the crane and them putting this up in 1992," she said as she pointed to the cross.

It's the third cross for the 127-year-old church that Henry Flagler built.

Brown said, "For 127 years it’s been an integral part of our skyline."

People here understand the importance of saving this cross and not damaging the dome even more.

"Now that we’re here, there’s a little bit of anxiety this morning," Richard Hardy gave a hearty laugh.  He is the President of the Hardy Group, the company overseeing the cross removal.

The cross is made of solid copper, according to Tom McConnell who made it in 1992. It weighs 900 pounds.

When it was time to take the cross off the dome, two men in a metal cage were lifted onto the dome, and they secured the cross.

A crane then grabbed the cross and a cable hoisted the cross off the dome. It was then lowered all the way to the ground. 

There was a collective sigh of relief that the cross – while bent – was safe.

"Oh it’s wonderful, wonderful!  It came down successfully. There’s not that much damage," Harvey said, beaming.

And now the cross and the dome can be repaired… so they can be a beacon of hope in the city’s skyline once again.

© 2017 WTLV-TV


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