Staff Photo: John Bohn Father David Dye, of Mary Our Queen Catholic Church in Norcross shows a photograph of St. Girard's Catholic Church, located in Buffalo, New York. St. Gerard's will be disassembled in Buffalo, transported by truck and train, to be reassembled in Norcross.
PEACHTREE CORNERS -- Four years ago, Mary Our Queen Catholic Church announced its big move -- the church isn't leaving its current location. It's bringing St. Gerard's Catholic Church "stone-by-stone" to Gwinnett from Buffalo, N.Y.
"It is really stone-by-stone and step-by-step, moment-by-moment," Father David Dye of Mary Our Queen said.
Since building a new church would cost approximately $40 million, Dye began to look around at other avenues while working with local architect Bill Harrison. He heard about St. Gerard's through the grapevine -- it was closing and had a "beautiful" interior, according to Dye, so he and Harrison traveled to Buffalo to look at the 1911 church.
"We went up to check it out and of course, the pictures on the Internet are nothing like the experience of going into the church," Dye said. "It's one of those buildings that architecturally, it just works. (Harrison) was blown away by it. At that point, he said, 'I think we should reproduce it how it is.'"
After the trip, it was settled. They would move St. Gerard's to Peachtree Corners, piece-by-piece, at a price tag ranging between $13 and $16 million.
Since then, a statue, holy water font (holder), crucifix and Paschal candle have made the trip to Gwinnett. The parish has been able to raise $3 million through members of Mary Our Queen and individual donors, but it won't be able to move any more of the structure until they raise the rest of the total.
"We probably won't ship anything else down here -- it's not the best way to get it here," Dye said. "Basically, workers will take it down in reverse that it was built ... load all those things and one of the major railroad companies has agreed to bring those down. ... We're selling bricks, but we will have to sell a lot of bricks to get $14 million."
But Dye doesn't mind waiting more than a decade to complete the project.
"Ten years wouldn't be a long time to wait on a church as fantastic as this," he said. "This is a project that really reminds people of things that have been around for a long time, monumental structures aren't being built anymore."
Once the church is completed, Dye and his parishioners will use the space as their new sanctuary and turn the old location into a community center.
"Our church was supposed to be a temporary church, then turned into a parish hall," he said with a laugh. "We don't have a parish hall. We really need to build a church so we can have a parish hall."
To donate money or for additional information about the move, visit www.movedbygrace.com.