Destructive termites can do a number on old historical structures in Massachusetts. This is not surprising since old timber-framed colonial structures were built long before termites became recognized as major structural pests in New England. Unfortunately, old colonial structures that are made of non-wood items, like brick masonry, are not immune to termite damage. For example, the 160 year old Holy Name of Jesus Church in Chicopee has sustained extensive termite damage despite the structure’s brick exterior. In fact, the termite damage in the building is so extensive that inspectors have deemed the building unsafe to inhabit. Due to this professional report, which has been corroborated by multiple pest control professionals and structural engineers, state officials aimed to demolish the building. Despite this, church authorities have delayed the building’s demolition, and the church remains standing, but closed to the public to this day.
Back in 2011, contractors discovered that wooden structural beams within the church had sustained extensive termite damage. Although termites do not consume brick masonry, the dirt floors within the church’s basement allowed termites easy access to internal structural components made of wood. This damage was found in spite of an inspection carried out two years prior that found the building to be structurally sound. One pest control expert in Chicopee who had witnessed the damage claimed that it would take years for eastern subterranean termites to inflict such advanced damage to large structural beams. The termite-damaged beams have compromised the entire structural integrity of the church.
The church was built between 1857 and 1859 and has had structural issues caused by insect pests in the past, but nothing on the scale that exists in the church today. As a result of the existing termite damage, the church’s parishioners have been attending the Assumption of the Blessed Mary Church in Springfield ever since the Holy Name Church closed its doors to the public to ensure their safety.
Do you believe that more should be done by state governments to prevent termite damage from occurring within historically significant structures?