Bill Rhoads Engineering Feat

Bill Rhoads Engineering Feat
The hammer beams and uprights tight against the wall at Holy Myrrh-Bearers Eastern Catholic Church in Ridley, Pa. The stone outcrop upon which the wooden structure is resting is called a corbel.

Holy Myrrh-Bearers Eastern Catholic Church is now in service in Ridley and a hero whose story deserves to be sung is Bill Rhoads of Rhoads Plumbing and Heating of Springfield.

The former, and historic, Leiper Presbyterian Church  at 900 Fairview Road was acquired by the Ukrainian Catholic Archepachy of Philadelphia in May 2014 for $525,000 to be the new home for the congregations of Saints Peter and Paul of Clifton Heights and Holy Ghost of Chester.

Leiper closed in January 2012. The existing building was erected in 1850 a year after a fire destroyed the original one built in 1819, the cornerstone for which can still be seen in an inside hallway.

Anyway, when the Archepachy acquired it, it was in bad shape. The hammer beams that supported the arches that supported the ceiling had pulled  from the wall.  The gaps were obvious. Consultants were advocating expensive and unattractive solutions which included removing the beautiful but heavy slate roof and replacing it with an ugly commercial, metal one.

Rhoads, who had done work for Saints Peter and Paul and who was picked to guide the process of upgrading the kitchen and HVAC at the new facility, had a notion that the beauty of the structure could be saved along with much money.

He researched the architecture and learned that the original builders neglected to install the necessary bolts fastening important uprights to the wall. These uprights connected the hammer beams to the interior corbels hence  they supported the entire roof.

Rhoads realized that all that may be needed was jacking the beams back against the wall and installing  bolts. He ran his idea by engineers and the Ridley code enforcers and got a green light.

Hence it was done, and a church and history were saved.

Along with a lot of money.

Maybe the Springfield School District ought to have a talk with Mr. Rhoads.

What could have been a bland, utilitarian building is now warm place of worship and one of Delaware County’s most beautiful churches.

Eastern Catholics are self-governing  churches in full communion with the Pope. Roman Catholics can fully participate in Eastern Catholic services just as Eastern Catholics often attend Roman Catholic services. This of course means the mutual reception of the Holy Eucharist.

Holy Myrrh-Bearers address is at 900 Fairview Road, Pa.  Swarthmore 19081. It will have Masses 10 a.m., Sundays.

The church is named for the women who went to anoint the body of Jesus after his crucifixion and found the tomb empty, along with Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea, who prepared the Lord’s body for burial. The women who found the empty tomb are Mary the Mother of God, Mary Magdalene and Martha, who were the sisters of Lazarus; Mary, the mother of James and Joses; Mary, the wife of Cleopas; Joanna, the wife of Chuza; Salome, the mother of James and John, the sons of Zebedee; and Susanna.

Bill Rhoads Engineering Feat

3 thoughts on “Bill Rhoads Engineering Feat”

  1. About the Springfield comment (which I think took away from your well-written and interesting article) — How would Rhoads save SSD money in relation to the asbestos roof deck, if that is what you are suggesting? I believe most of the costs involved with the roof are asbestos-related.

    Does Rhoads have cost-solutions for the necessary increased steel structural supports, should the School Board choose to renovate? Perhaps you could invite Rhoads to write a guest column for your blog to provide specifics. I’d be interested in reading it.

    I can’t end this comment without mentioning the cost impacts of housing the students/staff while lengthy, disruptive renovations would be occurring. $2.5–5 million for 25-30 trailers/temporary classrooms.

    And, I can’t end this comment without mentioning that renovations to the high school do not offer the nearly $600,000.00 in operating cost savings as a new building would provide.

    1. I don’t how Rhoads would do it or if he could do it. OTOH, nobody knew — or expected — that he could save the church roof.

      Sometimes a fresh set of eyes with a unique way of looking at things can make a big difference.

      Thank you for the nice comments regarding the rest of the article, btw.

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