A newly installed marble sign at the historic St. John the Evangelist Church in Schenectady was found toppled Sunday morning.
An overnight wind gust has been deemed the immediate cause, Rev. Richard Carlino said later Sunday. Church officials were in contact with the sign's architects to find out exactly what happened.
The sign had been completed and installed about a month ago as part of an 18-month-long project to redo the church's front steps, Carlino said. A cross that had previously been on the church itself had been placed on top the sign.
On Sunday, weeks after its completion, the sign lay in a crumbled heap, both the new marble sign and the cross that had originated on the church broken.
Carlino said he discovered the destroyed sign just before 7:30 Sunday morning, as he walked around the outside of the church.
"I thought it was a bad dream," Carlino said.
Carlino said he had heard about high winds in the area, but he also worried about possible vandalism. The vandalism concerns were quickly laid to rest by footage from a city surveillance camera in the area. The camera footage showed the wind damaged the sign.
"The wind toppled it," Carlino said, noting that the church itself is placed on a physically high point in the city's elevation. "The wind catches us here."
Carlino declined to comment Sunday on whether anything else may have contributed to the new sign falling, only saying that officials were in conversations with the sign's architects.
Schenectady was under a wind advisory for much of the day Sunday as winds between 15 and 25 mph and gusts up to 50 mph were expected. Recorded wind gusts in the Schenectady early Sunday hit between 35 and 40 mph, according to the National Weather Service in Albany.
The most important thing, he said, is that no one was hurt, Carlino said.
The remnants of the broken sign were expected to be removed by Sunday evening, Carlino said.
He didn't have a time frame on when the sign would be redone, but he said the sign will be redone.
"Absolutely," Carlino said, "we do intend to rebuild it,"
Constructed over a dozen years from 1892 to 1904, the 1,700-seat church features a 230-foot spire made of steel and glass, a 14-foot-high cross made of gilded iron, an altar from carrara marble, pews from oak, windows from the Royal Bavarian Art Institute in Munich and 536 angels depicted in stone, stained glass and more throughout the interior.
Gazette reporter Steven Cook contributed to this story