As T. H. Watkins reported in his “A Heritage Preserved” column for the December, 1980, issue, the Photo Arts Club of Toledo, Ohio, and the Landmarks Committee of the Maumee Valley Historical Society teamed up in 1979 to launch a remarkable project: the compilation of a photographic record of the architectural and decorative features of the region’s historic buildings so that there would at least be something left should disaster or the wrecker’s ball strike them down. The first building chosen was Toledo’s St. Patrick’s church.
None too soon, as it turned out. On September 9, 1980, lightning struck the huge copper-covered wooden cross on top of St. Patrick’s steeple, burning through the metal and setting the cross ablaze. The flames soon ate away most of the steeple, although after several hours of effort firefighters saved both the roof and the interior of the church from major injury. Still, water damage did its work—a grim reminder that the Photo Arts Club and the Landmarks Committee had hit upon an idea whose time definitely had come.