by Michael R. Allen
These photographs of St. Alphonsus Liguori (“Rock”) Church are frpm Friday afternoon. As the photographs suggest, the worst damage was sustained by the roof. The fire appears to have spread quickly across the roof, consuming some of the trusses and rafters while causing some roof collapse behind the steeple and over the altar. Overall, though, the church retains structural integrity. Even the roof damage is far less severe than anyone could have suspected on Thursday night during the fire. No assessment of interior damage is available. Given the amount of water used to fight the fire overhead, I would expect to find extensive water damage.
St. Alphonsus church was opened in 1872, although the steeples were not completed until 1894. The original plans came from Reverend Louis Dold and architect Thomas Walsh, while noted church architect and sculptor Joseph Conradi designed the steeples and the marble altar inside. Construction of the limestone church, designed in the Gothic Revival style, had begun in November 1867. The church was built by the Redemptorists, a Roman Catholic order founded by Liguori. After racial integration in 1947, the church congregation membership became heavily African-American.