Cathedral Restoration marks Milestone

Restoration of the Cathedral of St. John the DivineAntigua St John's - Two years into what amounts to a complete restoration of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, project manager Bruce Arrindell is pleased to announce that replacement of the roof of the building is now complete.

This marks the first major milestone in the restoration project, which it is estimated will take some six years to complete. The Cathedral of St. John the Divine is a major cultural and historical landmark in Antigua & Barbuda, carrying with it a rich history.
Project manager Arrindell notes that the restoration, which he describes as “money-driven”, could progress at a considerably faster pace. It could, in fact, advance as fast as the flow of financial resources will permit it to move.
At this stage, however, the replacement of the roof has accounted for the EC$2 million raised so far. Further progress, as well as the pace of that progress, will depend upon the accumulation of further funds.
The entire restoration program is budgeted at an estimated EC$13 million. Rapid inflows of financial resources will permit engineers to “crash” the project (i.e. push the work ahead on several fronts simultaneously).
As it is, the current availability of funds indicates that at the present pace of work it will be some two years more before the cathedral will be usable for worship services, and a further two years beyond that before the restoration project can be considered complete.

Restoration at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine
Each of those two-year periods will require the expenditure of up to EC$6 million. The enormity of the fund-raising challenge has led the Diocese to consider creative and un-orthodox means of generating capital.
Among the options being considered is the appointment of professional fund raisers to beat the bushes internationally on behalf of the restoration. Professional fund raisers seek out contributions from funding sources in return for a commission on amounts generated.
Mr. Arrindell made the revelations during an in-studio appearance on the Colin Sampson Show. Readers may visit the Caribarena.com video archive to view excerpts from the discussion.
Bruce Arrindell notes that the Diocese, which includes the North East Caribbean and stretches to include Aruba, has initiated a number of innovative fund-raising measures. Among these is the program of “$1000 per annum from 1000 persons”.

Admitting that the goal might not be the easiest to achieve, the project manager nevertheless observes that such an initiative has the potential to generate in excess of EC$1 million annually.
The project manager reports that the initial budget of approximately EC$12 million has generally held true. Although the roof of the building turned out to be in worse shape than originally expected (thus accounting for the complete replacement), the foundation was found to be better than expected. This meant that savings on the foundation could be applied to the extra work required on the roof.

Restoration at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine
Mr. Arrindell also has high praise for the construction workers who rebuilt the cathedral roof. Limitations imposed by the narrow streets surrounding the building, as well as by the imperative not to disturb the ancient graveyard, meant that no heavy equipment could be used to raise the huge beams into place. Consequently, everything had to be done by hand – in a process possibly identical to the manner in which the original construction had taken place.
The project manager also pointed out that, as in the original construction, no nails were used in the assembly process. The construction employed period building techniques such as mortise and tenon joints, and wooden dowels replaced steel nails. All this serves to give an original luster to the restoration process.
The Cathedral of St. John the Divine, first built in 1680 and rebuilt in the 1720s, is actually “a building inside a building”. Inside the stone structure is another quite separate wooden cathedral, every piece of which must be replaced. Bruce Arrindell reports that termite damage dictates the replacement of practically every piece of wood, including the pews.

The good news is that the foundation, having been found to be in much better condition than originally expected, will be restored to a much stronger state than before. On the other hand, considerations of cost and practicality dictate that the original stone slabs in the walkways be replaced with specially prepared concrete.
In fact, the entire floor of the restored cathedral will be cast in concrete and overlaid with wooden flooring, with the exception of the walkways themselves.
Finally, project manager Arrindell is considering the merits of various types of washes to return the stone exterior of the cathedral to its original splendor. He notes that Portland cement, which gives the structure its grey color, is actually detrimental to the limestone of which the cathedral is built. He hopes that a mixture excluding Portland cement and based on crushed natural limestone will do the trick.
Bruce Arrindell hopes that persons interested in supporting the cathedral restoration project will contact the Deanery at 268 462 0820. Interested parties may also visit the official website at saintjohnthedivineantigua.com, or follow Bruce Arrindell’s own blog.

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4 Comments In This Article   


RE: Cathedral Restoration marks Milestone

#4 BUBBLES » 2012-10-17 19:45



Good Work so far

#3 Vgb » 2012-04-11 09:52

Kudos to the workmen at the Cathedral, if you notice those beams had to be lifted no equipment could go inside the church..........10-1 5 men have to lift these beams not easy at all. Continue to pray for them.


RE: Cathedral Restoration marks Milestone

#2 Speed Bump » 2012-04-09 15:53

Nice work to all.

Speed Bump

Good to see

#1 dadlison » 2012-04-09 13:07

It makes me feel good knowing we have people like Bruce Arindell acting as caretakers for our heritage and culture. It will die lest we do not nurture it.


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