EDGEWATER — St. Ita Catholic Church's nearly 90-year-old limestone bell tower is undergoing extensive renovations to save the historic neighborhood structure, a church official said.
Crews began their work Monday to erect scaffolding, which will eventually wrap all the way to the top of the towering church at 1220 W. Catalpa Ave.
The roof of the bell tower would be completely rebuilt.
"The roof has never been replaced, has never been refurbished, according to church records," said Dorothy Julian, a church administrator and parishioner of 30 years. "It’s time and weather and pollution taking a toll on limestone, which is very porous."
Julian said the church hired a consultant to inspect the church's buildings, including the rectory, school and convent. Since then, the church has raised money to tackle the projects "in order of priority."
Repairs to the bell tower are expected to cost $205,000, paid for by the generosity of St. Ita's parishioners, she said.
About 1,400 people attend Mass there on the weekends.
The Gothic-style church was built between 1924 and 1927 under the authority of Cardinal George Mundelein, according to an account by the Edgewater Historical Society.
"The open, airy tower, with its delicate tracery, Gothic arches, finials and gargoyles, rises to 120 feet," reads the account. "The tower alone, however, contains 1,800 tons of stone and rests on a foundation that extends 9 feet below the sidewalk."
The church's walls were built 4-feet thick with limestone quarried in Bedford, Ind.
Julian said she expected the repairs to take three to five months to complete.