A beloved Willimantic church has reopened its doors after a devastating fire.
Flames torched the inside of Saint Mary Roman Catholic Church in 2013 and it has taken two-years to rebuild.
A re-dedication mass is scheduled for Saturday, June 20th at 4:30pm. So Sunday was a chance to simply to celebrate the effort to save and rebuild this church.
“Amazing, it’s just a beautifully finished product,” says Linda Harbec, a church member.
It’s hard to believe what happened here about two-years ago. Even the column where the fire started has been rebuilt.
“I was here for the fire. I was behind watching it burn and I watched the firemen punch out the stained glass window and my heart sank,” says Marge Bachand, a church member.
Heroic efforts by firefighters on May 16th, 2013 saved the outside and the foundation of the 110-year old building. But the inside was devastated and would undergo two –years of repairs.
“I received pictures along the way of the progress of the church and when I saw it it kind of blew me away,” says Albert Harbec, a church member.
The original tabernacle and sanctuary lamp were miraculously saved from the ashes. Among the new additions, the repainted half-dome includes stars on a blue background.
“The stars that are in that half-dome are the actual constellations for the night for January, 1st 1905, the day the church opened,” says Mark Lafontaine, the church’s art director.
There was a never a doubt the church would be rebuilt. Many were just surprised how well it turned out and hope that it lasts at least another century.
“It just took a lot of thought and special, very special restoration that’s fabulous,” says Bachand.
The church says the cause of the fire was never determined. The cost of repairs and decorating were covered by insurance and donations.