Termites Close Holy Name Church
Termite damage in the foundation beams combined with some masonry deterioration in the Holy Name of Jesus Church has caused it to close temporarily.
Contractors hired to do a renovation project found structural problems in the chapel of the church this week. Concerned about the attached main church, they also inspected that and also found foundation problems.
"When we looked into the basement area ... we realized the masonry has started to deteriorate because of age and termite damage was there as well," Rev. David M. Darcy, pastor of the church. "With the structural stress on the main beams, we determined this was not a safe environment."
The church building was constructed in 1857, 21 years after the parish was dedicated as the first in the Springfield area. It has a dirt floor in the basement with brick masonry pillars, he said.
The church had termite problems in the past, which had looked like it had been treated at one time before Darcy became pastor. He is unsure if the pests returned.
The church had been inspected two years ago when the Office of Pastoral Planning was reviewing all diocesan buildings as part of its work to determine which churches should be merged or closed. No major problems were found at the time, Darcy said.
"In the last two years there has been significant change that caused us to say there are safety concerns," he said.
It takes years for termites to damage a beam enough to cause problems with its structural integrity, said Bob Russell, entomologist with American Pest Solutions, a family business which has been in Springfield since 1913.
"It would depend on the size of the colony and the amount of moisture in the soil. There are a lot of factors," he said.
A dirt basement, which typically has higher humidity, is an environment which termites like, Russell said.
The beams could also be compromised by the powder post beetle, which is a common problem for very old buildings. The church was built when logs were used in construction that were not treated to kill any insects inside, and beetles would sometimes come in with the logs.
Darcy said a thorough inspection of the church is being done. Engineers are expected report the extent of the damage and give a cost estimate of the repairs next week.
All services are now being moved to the Assumption of the Blessed Mary Church on Springfield Street.
When diocese closed churches in Chicopee it merged Assumption of the Blessed Mary Church with Holy Name. That meant the unused church became the official property of the Holy Name parish, Darcy said.
The Assumption Church, on Springfield Street, has been used from time-to-time by Holyoke Catholic High School so it is not a problem to re-open it, he said.
In total there are seven buildings on the property. Other buildings on the property have been inspected, including those used for the Holy Name School, and no problems were found, Darcy said.
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