San Antonio church blames two subcontractors for scaffolding collapse, files lawsuit

Collapse caused $14.5 million in damage to St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, church officials say

SAN ANTONIO – A historic church in downtown San Antonio has filed a lawsuit against two subcontractors church officials claim are responsible for a scaffolding collapse that occurred during a storm in September 2019.

According to a news release, the damage to St. Mark’s Episcopal Church is estimated at $14.5 million.

On the night of Sept. 19, a storm with high winds toppled a 100-foot section of scaffolding from the nearby 16-story AT&T building onto the 300 block of Martin Street, sending debris and thousands of gallons of water into the parish house of the church.

Investigators have determined that weather conditions that night were not severe enough to have caused the damage without an underlying defect in the scaffolding, the news release said.

“Assessing the damage to the Church property has taken more than a year,” said the Rev. 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.

“Thank God, we have insurance to enable us to restore the Parish House. 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.”

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 AT&T building.

St. Mark’s Episcopal Church was established in 1858.

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