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157-year-old Steeple Removed from Janesville’s Oldest Church

Posted By Mark Cullen On December 21, 2021
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As the Tough Job Experts, we are recognized as the contractor who discovers solutions for something that was said could not be done, and leveraging every bit of our technical expertise, market insight and collaborative skill to complete the project on time and on budget, the right way, the first time. We put our Tough Job Experts to the test removing the 157-year-old steeple off Janesville’s oldest church, Saint Patrick’s Catholic Parish, on November 4th and 5th.

Earlier this year a structural engineer inspected the steeple and said it should be removed for safety. The wood inside was disintegrating due to age, squirrels, bats, and pigeons. The 132-foot-tall steeple tilted slightly to the southeast – some believe due to high winds about 10 years ago. The inspection also found the anchor points on the northwest corner had been pulled out which was causing it to twist and crush brick on the southeast side.

When Father Drew Olson approached me about this project, I thought to myself “We can do this!” and “I want to be a part of this once-in-a-lifetime project!” Not only because this but actually for a few reasons:

  1. This is what we consider an exciting tough job!
  2. We are self-performing builders which means we can do the work ourselves.
  3. Our family and our employee’ families have such deep connections to this church.

As Father Drew said, “[The Cullen family] is invested in this much more than a job but and I think as members of the community and the faith, it counts as so much more.”

A picture of the original church records of George & Anna's Marriage

A picture of the original parish records of George & Anna’s Marriage

November 5th, 2021 would have marked George P. and Anna Lee Cullen’s 156th wedding anniversary married in that very same church. George P. was the father of our company’s Founder, J.P. Cullen and my Great-Great Grandpa, George Cullen – who my wife and I named our son, and current Co-President after. November 5 also marks the 15th anniversary of my mother, Jane Jewett’s passing and my nephew Payton Cullen’s 19th birthday – the youngest member of the fifth generation Cullen’s.

As I mentioned, not only does our family have deep roots but a few of our employees are very involved, longtime members of the parish. To say it was an important and exciting day for us all would be an understatement!

The months, weeks and days leading up to November 4th and 5th the team thoroughly investigated, planned, and prepared for the removal. We are thankful for our partners: Building Envelope Professionals Group, Structural Integrity Inc., Endres, Lycon, Dawes Crane Rental and Westphal Electric who were with us every step of the way.

Thanks to the crew pictured here (and not pictured) for safely executing the project on that cold November day.

The next goal is for the parish to raise about $2 million to restore the steeple and return it to the Janesville skyline. Both the steeple and the bell are sitting outside the church for the church community to see their glory. A temporary cap has been placed over the hole in the roof in the meantime.

Saint Patrick’s has already raised over half the proceeds to fund the project. Consider donating to help this steeple live another 157 years: Capital Campaign (saintpatrickofjanesville.org)