A Historically Significant Church Was Barely Saved From A Massive Termite Infestation That Took 14 Years To Eradicate
St. Patrick’s Church was constructed back in 1838, and since then, the church has had its share of structural issues. During the Civil War the church caught fire, and a hurricane that struck New Orleans in 1915 shattered all of the structure’s stained glass windows. Unfortunately, in 1965, the windows had to be replaced again after Hurricane Betsy devastated the city. While these structural issues required significant amounts of money and work to correct, nothing can compare to the damage inflicted by the Formosan subterranean termite infestation that was discovered in the church back in 1983. Eventually, the termite infestation was eradicated, and the church was restored to its original glory, but only after the termites put up a 14 year fight that ended up costing hundreds of thousands of dollars in control and repair costs.
When the termite infestation was first discovered in the church, the destructive insects had already managed to infest every nook and cranny of the structure. In fact, termites were found infesting newly installed wood from a renovation that had just been completed on the roof of the church’s bell tower. The termites clearly had no problem scaling the 185 foot bell tower in order to access fresh wood. Later it was found that numerous termite colonies had been infesting several of the old mechanical clock faces located several floors above the streets of New Orleans. As a result of these infestations, one of the clocks had fallen from the structure only to crash on the street below. Luckily, nobody was hurt, but this incident led church officials to have the clocks replaced with fiberglass replicas.
Over the years, St. Patrick’s Church has undergone numerous renovations due to termite damage. In an effort to save the church, parishioners had Louisiana State University entomologist Gregg Henderson apply bait traps within the structure. During the eradication strategy, old wood was replaced with new wood at a cost of 200,000 dollars. St. Patrick’s Church remains standing today, but some experts believe that termite infestations still exist in the church’s roof due to the presence of termite mud tubes.
Have you ever set foot within a structure that had become compromised by a termite infestation?