Church raising money to save crumbling dome

The interior of the dome of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary Greek Orthodox Church in Pawtucket, R.I. (Photo by Tatevik Aprikyan, WPRI-TV)

PAWTUCKET, R.I. (WPRI) — A historic landmark is in serious need of help: the entrancing, beautiful dome of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary Greek Orthodox Church in Pawtucket is deteriorating, due to cracks in the building and water leaking in.

The church was built in the 1960s. Today, the walls of the dome are peeling, and damage is visible on the inside. A ten-pound iron eagle hanging from the dome’s chandelier even rusted and fell. “Which means water is coming in from some point from the dome,” said the church’s Rev. Philip Zymaris. “Probably the cross — and trickling down to the four corners.”

The damage is also hurting Byzantine-style artwork and iconography. The signature gold leaf used in many Greek churches can’t be easily fixed. “We need someone who knows the traditions about the colors and so forth… in order to do it right,” said the Rev. Zymaris.

The church is hoping to raise $100,000 for repairs. It’s a lot of money, says attorney Leo Foussekis, who is heading up the “Save the Dome” campaign. The hope is to raise $100,000 within a year.

Restoration isn’t just for those who have come to worship for decades — “It obviously hurts them, to see the church deteriorating structurally,” said Foussekis — but also to benefit the rest of the community. “That’s our duty as a church: when people help us, we can help others too.”

And unfortunately the longer the wait, the worse the damage gets. The church tried repairing parts of the inside, but never found the root cause at the center of the water damage — and the issue has continued.

“We’re in dire need.”

The church is taking donations online through its website, or you can send donations to Assumption of the Virgin Mary Greek Orthodox Church, 97 Walcott Street, Pawtucket, RI, 02860.

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