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Two Years After Scaffolding Toppled

    May 19, 2021 |

    Two Years After Several Stories of Scaffolding Toppled onto
    St. Mark’s Episcopal Church
    Damage Estimates Continue to Climb

    Damage estimates from the Fall 2019 scaffolding collapse at $14.5 million

    San Antonio, Texas—A lawsuit has been filed in Bexar County against two subcontractors responsible for the September 2019 scaffolding collapse onto the historic St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, located in downtown San Antonio.

    The San Antonio Express News in 2019 estimated some 230 feet of scaffolding, estimated at 1 million pounds, toppled onto the Parish House from the 16-story AT&T building across East Martin Street. Piles of heavy metal destroyed the Parish Hall’s roof and crushed the chiller for the church’s heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system. As a result, 5,000 gallons of treated water rained throughout all four floors.

    “Assessing the damage to the Church property has taken more than a year,” said the Reverend Beth Knowlton. “Restoring the Parish House of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church is a slow, detailed process due to its historic nature, having been built in the 1920s and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Repairs are well under way now, thanks to our insurance carrier.”

    Named in the lawsuit are Georgia-based United Restoration and Preservation Inc. and Gulf Coast Access Inc., formerly known as Big City Access Inc. In 2019, Both companies were involved in performing work related to the restoration of the façade of the 16-story AT&T building.

    Investigators have determined that weather conditions on the night of September 19, 2019 were not severe enough to have caused the damage without an underlying defect in the scaffolding.

    “Thank God, we have insurance to enable us to restore the Parish House,” added The Rev. Knowlton. “The lawsuit is part of the routine insurance subrogation process. We work with our insurance company; they in turn have the right to seek compensation for the loss. That’s how the insurance process works.”

    St. Mark’s Episcopal Church was established in 1858. The scaffolding collapse in 2019 and the COVID-19 pandemic have affected the property but not the determination of church leaders and the congregation to gather for worship and serve the San Antonio community. 

    “The church is more than a building…it is the people…our families, our neighbors, and our community,” said Rev. Knowlton. “We have lived through the scaffolding collapse and a pandemic and our spirit is stronger than ever.”


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