- Candace Neff Director
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Restoration Work Begins at Cross in the Woods
The scaffolding is up and work has begun on the restoration of the Cross and surrounding area at the National Shrine and Parish of the Cross in the Woods, Indian River. Recognized as one of northern Lower Michigans best-known and most treasured worship and tourist sites, the massive 55-foot-high crucifix has developed significant structural issues over the past 50+ years which needed to be addressed in order to keep this landmark functional for generations to come. It was the hope that the entire tab needed to complete restoration of the area, cross and corpus would be secured prior to beginning the endeavor so that the entire renovation could be completed in one effort. Unfortunately, reaching this goal was made more difficult by the economic climate the past several years so the work needed to be broken out into three phases. The First Phase of the restoration work, costing a little over $140,000, began a couple of weeks ago. Completely engulfed in scaffolding (see picture), the restoration of the cross and corpus will include structural rebuilding plus being both stripped and cleaned and then followed by the application of rust inhibitive primer, oil-based primer, and two coats of finish paint. In addition, there is a need for concrete patching around the base of the Cross. This phase should take 6 to 7 weeks to complete. The second phase of the effort focuses on restoration of the outdoor altar area which has endured some water damage through the years. This phase is estimated to cost around $95,000. The Third Phase will be restoration of the steps and marble holy stairs leading to the Cross. Phase Three is estimated to cost around $57,000. Last June, the committee formed to raise funds for the restoration of the Cross and outdoor sanctuary area adopted a campaign entitled Lift High the Cross. A goal was set to raise $1,000,000 in order to make the needed renovations and provide for future ongoing maintenance. At the time, the committee considered the following projects necessary to restore, maintain and enhance the shrine:
- Restoration of the cross and corpus fix the existing metal cap at the transition into the vertical surface which has been pulling away. The seam between the existing metal cap, originally installed in two pieces, failed. Additionally, the metal cap was installed by placing the fasteners through the top, thus compromising the caps ability to remain water tight.
- Restoration of the concrete/marble stairway - The railings are rusted at the base and need to be removed, cleaned and reset. The fill behind the marble must be cut out and removed and new fill restored. The marble must be lifted, cleaned and reset.
- Re-setting of the marble in the sanctuary - The area needs to be power-washed and checked for cracking. The marble and fill needs to be removed and retaining wall inspected. Drain tiles need to be installed under this area and the whole sanctuary will need to be rebuilt.
- Handicap accessibility to the cross - Assessing and installing handicap access up to the crucifix will be considered and carried out if it is deemed possible.
- Ongoing maintenance - Planning for future needs and regular maintenance.