BOISDALE, N.S. -- An online fundraiser has been launched with a goal of restoring an historic Cape Breton church back to its former glory.

Built in 1929, St. Andrew’s Catholic Church in Boisdale, N.S., is nearly a century old.

The work is expected to not only preserve the church for future generations, but also reveal its original stone design, unlocking a bit of its past.

“The best way we could figure to do that was to take the walls down and reintroduce the church to its original form on the outside so that people, when they came here, would see the church as it should be seen,” says Joe MacDonald, a member of the parish council.

MacDonald and area historian Blaine MacKinnon are part of a community-led effort to preserve the future of the church by taking it back to its past.

St. Andrew’s has been falling into disrepair in recent years. As a result, many of the exterior additions that have been introduced over the years are being stripped away, but the church still needs a lot of work, including repairs to the roof.

A GoFundMe page to help cover costs has brought in just under $3,000 and MacKinnon says many of the donations have been made by people outside Nova Scotia.

“We’ve gotten donations for this cause from right across North America,” he says.

While it’s a good start, more money is needed to complete the project, and organizers are appealing for help.

Only one church service has been held at St. Andrew’s since the COVID-19 crisis hit the Maritimes, and organizers know the pandemic has been hard on people’s pocketbooks.

Still, they are pushing on.

“As a tribute to the people who built St. Andrew’s in the early years, the people, the pioneers that were here that had a stronger faith than we’ll ever have,” says MacDonald.

As a sentimental side benefit, the project is also revealing expert stone work that had been hidden for decades, allowing parishioners of a certain age to see St. Andrew’s the way they remember it.

“It’s an original stone church and there was originally a tower on it that made it quite an edifice that could be seen from many, many miles around,” explains MacDonald.

Organizers are hoping to raise $12,000 for the project through the GoFundMe Page.