Stewart Companies

Lewis at the Ready—Emergency Response at St. Mary, Star of the Sea

On Monday, the iconic steeple cross atop St. Mary, Star of the Sea Church, a landmark to sailors entering the Baltimore harbor, was left dangling by the 68 mph winds that accompanied the severe thunderstorms with tornado warnings that dropped 2” of rain in the city. Fr. Josh Laws, a priest at St. Mary, had been watching a movie when he first learned about the damage. The steeple itself was deemed structurally sound, but the cross dangling perilously above the church needed to be removed immediately.

At 3 p.m., just as the tornado warning was lifted, the Archdiocese of Baltimore called upon the services of Lewis Contractors to remedy the potentially dangerous situation. Lewis immediately dispatched two of its seasoned field superintendents to the site along with a truck crane equipped with a man basket to reach the top of the steeple. The badly damaged cross was safely removed just before sunset by the two men, who had previously served the Archdiocese in restoring the Basilica of the Assumption. The cross is now being restored to “[get] it back up and shining” as requested by Fr. Laws.

This was not the first time Lewis Contractors was called upon by the Archdiocese in an emergency. In 2011, when a most unusual earthquake struck Baltimore, Lewis Contractors immediately went to work to assess and repair the damages to the Basilica of the Assumption, the nation’s first cathedral. Lewis had finished the monumental restoration of the building just years before that and because of the 2011 earthquake, the landmark dome and massive stone entry suffered structural cracks, which could have resulted in disastrous damage.

Just as they did on Monday, at that time Lewis forces stepped in immediately. They installed structural reinforcing to the dome, repaired the entry and completed the other needed repairs without ever shutting down services or delaying the many planned weddings and other special services on the Basilica’s calendar. Erecting a complex system of curtains to conceal the damaged ceiling and walls, which were moved during the week and replaced each Friday afternoon, the visitors and parishioners barely noticed that the work was being completed.

Lewis stands ready to respond to the emergency needs of its clients – in earthquakes, high winds and even pandemics.

Read the Baltimore Sun article here.