April 16, 2013 by: Ben Heimsath


church steeple restoration scaffolding resized 600

The church steeple restoration at Our Lady of Guadalupe in Austin is nearly complete.  The project consisted of replacing most of the exterior materials on the original tower and restoring the original trim profiles.  

The church called upon Heimsath Architect’s expertise when a portion of a column fell to the ground.  Originally constructed in the 1950’s, the church tower had been patched and repaired over the years, but recently showed signs of significant deterioration.  A large bee colony had made its home in three of the columns, filling them with honeycomb.

The architects conducted a conditions assessment study and worked with structural engineers to evaluate the extent of the problems.  A structural analysis determined that interior supports were still sound.  A local bee keeper was called in to give the colony a more suitable home.  The restoration program was then focused on rebuilding the exterior with new columns, roofing materials and wood details.  

church steeple before restoration resized 600The condition of the tower had deteriorated significantly.  Well-intentioned patches and repairs had covered or compromised the wood trim profiles.

The original copper roofing proved to be in good shape, but the drip edges were not diverting rainwater properly.  By resetting the drip edges and re-soldering seams, the copper dome and other roof elements remained intact.  The contractor ultimately removed 400 pounds of honeycomb from the tower!

church steeple restoration column capital resized 600The new wood details and profiles show the quality of the steeple's cupola and are an important part of the overall design.

The congregation included the church steeple restoration as part of a larger program for the historic church building.  The completed work includes, roof repairs, brick repointing, stained glass window restoration and protection, wood trim replacement, exterior repainting, and an upgrade of the a/c distribution system.  The contractor, Braun and Butler, scheduled the work so the church could continue to use the space during construction.


Expand your practical knowledge of historic preservation.  Sandy Stone, preseravtion architect, explains how to keep these buildings in top shape. Click the link below:

Download Care and Feeding for Historic Buildings

Sacred Architecture/ Church Design & Construction/ Master Plan/ Historic Preservation