January 12, 1955: An Important Date in Saint John Kanty’s History

January 12, 1955: A  three alarm fire engulfed the interior of the church, still decorated for the Christmas season. Ten stained glass windows burst from extreme heat pressure, and organ pipes fell to the church floor. The fire also destroyed the wooden main altarpiece, two side altars, murals and statuary. Remarkably, the life size sculpture of The Last Supper, originally set in the main altar, was saved. The sculptor, Frank Pedevilla, lived and worked in the Rochester area. Originally intended for the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Montreal, because of the additional border crossing fees Notre Dame was unable to accept delivery. Seen in a store window by someone from St. John Kanty, a deal was struck for the purchase and delivery to the East side church. This magnificent wooden sculpture now rests in the choir loft for all to see.

Grads of Saint John Kanty School still report looking out their classroom windows and seeing the fire.


The altar at the time of the fire. Note the wooden Last Supper sculpture.


The fire reportedly started in this Manger, still up on January 12  (photo dated 1939).






Here is an interesting report from a firefighter’s perspective…click on the photo to read!


(For further information on the history of Saint John Kanty go to this link on our webpage, which was updated for our 125th Anniversary in 2017: https://www.saintjohnkanty.com/parish-history/)

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