Category Archives: Project Information

The Symbolism of St. Gerard’s Church

The symbolism of St. Gerard’s is that of a roadway, depicting the travel of a pilgrim people of God through life. The saints surround us to give example and lead the way. In St. Paul’s in Rome there are no pews. The message was conveyed that we are all moving together and assembling and walking together hand in hand. If we sit down, it is only momentarily before we are called to go on again.

When we come to the end of the roadway, which is symbolic of the end of our journey through life, we arrive in the Arch of Triumph, or, at the end of your life, at the gate of Heaven, depicted in the dome.

The arch depicts the victory of Jesus over sin and death. When we enter the church through Baptism, we enter through the archway to share the victory of Christ. The Eucharistic table, where we partake of the Bread and Wine, is directly under the archway. Under the archway, we are confirmed; here we join together in marriage; here we anoint our sick; here we finally bring our dead to celebrate the Mass of the Resurrection as they go on before us to the Gate of Heaven.

Reconciliation takes place along the way, off to the side, away from the greatest traffic, because we all know, we cannot enter the City of God until we are all reconciled with one another.

St. Gerard’s Church is not only a house of worship. It is a prayer in stone, plaster, wood and glass. It is a prayer offered by all who sacrificed so that it could be built. It is a prayer by those whose hands shaped it and a prayer by those who came to enjoy and worship in this most magnificent House of God.

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An Engineering Moment

About the time St. Gerard’s was erected in an affluent Buffalo, American magnates were acquiring and relocating treasures from Europe and elsewhere. The European to U.S. cycle climaxed with the completion of The Cloisters in New York City and San Simeon in California, both museums.

In the late 20th century, a Spanish town church was relocated to Miami where it exists as an Episcopal parish. A chapel was relocated to Marquette University in Milwaukee earlier.

The St. Gerard project will be the first large structure relocated entirely within the United States, the first moved from North to South (reflecting the Catholic population shift from the Northeast and Midwest to the Southeast and Southwest in the last 30 years), and the first to employ advanced scanning techniques in architecture and construction. It will also be the first “Catholic-to-Catholic” transfer.

The structure is ready for disassembly, transfer and re-establishment on a new, stronger superstructure 900 miles away in Atlanta. By itself, this new skeleton will add centuries to the building’s life.

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An Architectural Moment

Visitors stand in awe of the magnificent structure – startlingly like the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls in Rome, though one-third its size. The exterior of Indiana limestone, an interior of travertine marble and plaster and twelve solid granite columns lining the nave make the church one of the most solidly built (and easy to disassemble) structures of its time.

When relocated to Atlanta (specifically Norcross), the church will be metropolitan Atlanta’s first church of such combined size, strength, material quality, decoration and finish. A review indicates no churches of comparable architectural and construction quality anywhere in the Southeast.

Duplicating this richness and beauty from the ground up would cost an estimated $40 million or more. Relocating the 100-year-old church from Buffalo will cost an estimated $15 million.

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About Mary Our Queen and Saint Gerard Parishes

Saint Gerards as it awaits relocation

visit to donate today

About Mary Our Queen Church

Opened as a mission of All Saints Catholic Church in Dunwoody, Georgia, in November 1994, the parish ofMary Our Queen started life humbly in an office building on Peachtree Industrial Boulevard in nearby Norcross.

Initially, there were 70 registered families. Mass was celebrated on Saturdays at 5:00 p.m. and at 10:00 a.m. on Sundays. Within a few years, the parish added another Mass on Sunday at 11:00 a.m, developed an adult choir, contemporary choir and children’s choir supported by lectors, altar servers, Eucharistic ministers, ushers and a nursery.

Today, a 15,000-square-foot temporary church and a 6,000-square-foot educational facility (named the Trinity Building) sit on a 15-acre site at the intersection of The Corners Parkway and Crooked Creek Road in the Peachtree Corners area of Norcross. The sanctuary seats 600, while the Trinity Building houses the church’s school of religion program.

To replace the temporary structure and accommodate a growing church membership, Mary Our Queen launched a capital campaign to raise money for the construction of a new church. The parish enlisted the help of Bill Harrison of Harrison Design Associates, an internationally prominent architectural and design firm, to develop plans for the new church. During this same time, Father David M. Dye came forward with an idea: buy and move a more significant classic church than the parish could ever build.

Visiting around in the Northeast, the pastor and the architect, a Southern Baptist, came upon St. Gerard’s. To their astonishment, Bill discovered that the floor plan and overall style of the magnificent church was within five percent of his own plans for a new church in Norcross. The major difference was the vastly superior quality of the materials used in the construction of the 98-year-old church.

To begin the pilgrimage of St. Gerard’s to Atlanta, the parish, which had already raised $3 million for the construction of a new church, committed those funds to the relocation.

To complete the pilgrimage, the parish and a broad-based board from a variety of backgrounds requests your help. Will you please help bring one of America’s threatened treasures 900 miles into the future?

About St. Gerard’s Church

St. Gerard’s Church (completed 1911) is a Gilded Age approximation (at one-third scale) of the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, one of the four major basilicas of Rome. Its exterior is of Indiana limestone. The interior is travertine marble and beautifully done plaster. Its atmosphere is a mix of neoclassical and baroque, with hints of art moderne. Twelve solid granite columns line the nave. Along the interior are ornamental coffered ceilings and a dome in the apse with a triumphant painting of the Coronation of Mary as Queen of Heaven.

When a dwindling parish membership forced the Diocese of Buffalo to close the church in January 2008, St. Gerard’s was left to fend for itself near the shore of Lake Erie. With each freeze / thaw cycle, the window of time for preservation shrinks. The splendidly executed structure already needs a new boiler, plaster and roof repairs and new leading for its luminous stained glass. Disassembling, moving and reassembling the church will ensure its life continues as originally intended by the stream of immigrants who created this monument and maintained it for nearly a century as the House of God and the Gate of Heaven.

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Preservation Through Relocation

Preservation Through Relocation

Moving St. Gerard’s Church from Buffalo, New York, to Atlanta, Georgia, is a journey like no other.

True, it is a pioneer effort to preserve one of America’s great architectural treasures.

It is also a journey that represents a singular moment for metropolitan Atlanta, for the nation and for the Catholic Church in terms of architecture, engineering, aesthetics and education, historic preservation and demographic history

But it is more than a journey. It is a pilgrimage. On this pilgrimage, it is the church itself that is moving.

The “preservation through relocation” of the magnificent basilica-style structure has received support from both communities and from the outside, including the Archbishop of Atlanta, the Bishop of Buffalo, the Archbishop of New York, local and national preservationists, architects, builders, former St. Gerard’s parishioners and present parishioners of Mary Our Queen.

While these supporters have their own special reasons for supporting this project, the central fact of the relocation will always be that this beautiful building will continue to exist for the worship of God in a way that transcends the limits of time and space – even the 900 miles between Buffalo and Atlanta.

With your help, an American monument will continue life as a center of spiritual vitality and growth, a symbol of love for God and the unflagging human spirit.

Without your help, the church will sit vacant at the corner of Bailey and East Delavan in a fading neighborhood which Catholic residents have largely departed. The church’s almost certain fate there, amid the harsh elements, is deterioration, decline and, eventually, destruction.

For more information and an opportunity to become a supporter of this project, please go to