Faithful to the past: Why there's a church cupola in this family's backyard

One of the most talked-about decor pieces at the 50-acre Von Paris farm in Upper Falls is actually outside the three-story Georgian-Colonial home.

Behind the 1860s farmhouse where John Von Paris grew up stands the 25-foot cupola that once topped St. Joseph Church in Fullerton.

“It’s definitely a conversation starter,” says the 59-year-old CEO of Von Paris Moving & Storage.

“My father would like to see it every time he was driving home from work,” Von Paris explains. “It reminded him that he was close to home.”

One day, his father — the late William “Bill” Von Paris — was driving home and saw the 5,000-pound dome for sale on the lawn of the church.

“He asked the priest if it was, indeed, up for sale,” Von Paris says. The older Von Paris “told him he wouldn’t pay for it. Instead he made a donation to the church.”

It’s been at the home ever since.

Von Paris plans to restore the piece at some point this year, along with the rest of the house, which he purchased last July.

The piece will be displayed prominently during the September wedding reception of his 26-year-old son, Sam, a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy.

Von Paris hasn’t had the piece appraised, and he doesn’t know how much the church was asking for it. He’s keeping it for sentimental reasons.

“It’s meaningful,” he says. “It’s the history of it.”

john-john.williams@baltsun.com

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