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ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI)– If you’ve been in downtown St. Louis lately, you may have noticed much of the Old Cathedral is covered with something new. Scaffolding.

The 180-year-old church is undergoing its first major renovation in more than 50 years.

“I told the workers and the subs you don`t have to be Catholic to work on the project but it doesn`t hurt,” said Kevin Lasatar, project executive for Musick Construction Company, which did the 1960 restoration as well.

For the past two months, craftspeople have been chiseling and scraping and stripping away years of decay at the church, officially called The Basilica of St. Louis, King of France.

It’s the oldest cathedral west of the Mississippi, and was preceded on its current site by two other Catholic churches dating back to the 1770s.

It is easy to see the need for the restoration.

The stonework needs work, the woodwork needs work,  some of the lights don’t work, and the flooring is, pardon the expression, in need of salvation.

“The total budget is about $15 million,” said Lasatar. “We have raised about $6.5 million, so we are still looking for dollars.”

All funds are coming through private donations, and even though only about half the money has been raised, the work has begun on the exterior walls and windows.

“I hope it is always seen for all the people of the metropolitan area as a place of reflection and prayer and contemplation,” said associate pastor and Priest-In-Residence Fr. Richard Quirk. “We are going to do all we can in our generation so to speak to make sure it continues.”

Hopes are to complete the restoration in 2014 to coincide with the 250th anniversary of the founding of St. Louis

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