WILKES-BARRE — There’s a shiny new rooftop amid the modest Wilkes-Barre City skyline.
A new copper roof now adorns the steeple of the First Presbyterian Church at the corner of West Northampton and South Franklin streets.
Rev. Bob Zanicky, who has been pastor of the church for more than 31 years, said the roof that was replaced was also copper and it was placed on the steeple in 1889 — 129 years ago. Zanicky would not say how much the new copper roof cost, but he did say that if it lasts another 129 years, it would be well worth the cost.
As is the case with copper, the new roof will not remain shiny for very long — it will eventually turn green through oxidization. Zanicky said the copper will turn green within six moths to a year. A new copper cross that rises 10 feet is also part of the roof replacement, Zanicky said.
The church has a long history. Zanicky said the architect was a man named James Cleveland Cady of New York City. Cady’s proposed design for the church was approved by trustees on April 22, 1886. Zanicky said the church currently has 450 adult members.
Zanicky said the copper roof was damaged by hail during a winter storm so it had to be replaced.
He said the red stone used to build the church came from Laurel Run Borough and each block of it was hand-carved.
Cady was well-known, Zanicky said, having designed landmarks like New York City’s Metropolitan Opera House and the American Museum of Natural History. The stained glass windows came from London, England, the reverend noted.
According to the history of the church detailed on its website, “the cornerstone of the present church, to which we are heirs and custodians, was laid on July 11, 1887. Reminiscent of early practice, church pews were auctioned. Rental for these pews produced income of $14,000 a year. The new church, replete with electric lights and gas jets, was not dedicated until it was free of debt on March 18, 1894.”
Reach Bill O’Boyle at 570-991-6118 or on Twitter @TLBillOBoyle.