What was the original scope of the work?
In the spring and summer this year, water damage to the plaster ceiling was observed just inside the main entrance to the church on the right side upon entering. It was also apparent on the ceiling and wall directly above this level just before entering the sanctuary. Closer examination determined the primary source was from the bell platform level in the steeple. A bid of $32,000 was received to replace the decking as well as scraping, caulking and painting of the entire clock area up to the upper cupola.
How did it rapidly expand in need?
It was a process of one step leading to another. Once our contractor -Mid Maine Restoration - accessed the area above the bell, water damage was revealed to the decorative capitals as well as the hidden hatch at the mast level which secures the weathervane. Then with the arrival of a 125 foot bucket truck, significant water leakage was observed inside the upper most roof of the cupola and at the support juncture of the mast holding the weather vane. Most critical, panels covering support posts were removed. Four of these eight posts have major damage which have compromised their structural integrity.
What is the current estimate?
The revised repair and restoration proposal is $106,000 plus approximately $15,000 next year for mast replacement and related repairs at this upper most level. This estimate does include the original bid in the previous paragraph.
The Trustees are pleased to report that the response to the Steeple Fund has been very generous. Within a month of making our needs known, we are close to reaching our goal. Within hours of the presentations at the Stewardship Breakfast we had received a pledge of $10,000 to be followed the next week by an anonymous matching gift of $50,000. The generosity of many more has brought our Pledge total to over $130,000.
As payment for the work is due upon completion, it is necessary for the Trustees to secure a loan to carry us through until all the pledged money is received. Timely payment of pledged amounts is most appreciated and will help to keep the financing costs to a minimum.
To help raise the remaining funds, we are looking toward some events that will involve the wider community. The first of these is a Chowder Public Supper, hosted by the Fellowship Committee. It will be held Friday, January 28 at 6:00 PM at the Community House. Please plan to attend!
What are our options?
Mid Maine Restoration has kept our Property Manager and Treasurer at each juncture of the work. In depth conversations have revealed three options at this time.
#1 - Do nothing more with internal structure above the clock -the bell platform level - and live with a steeple in its weakened condition and all the associated risks, simply finish the caulking and painting.
# 2 -Cease all work now and cap off the steeple at the bell platform level, removing all structure above the clock. With the work already complete and some milling contracted, total cost of this option would be $65,000; nearly half of which would be to securely dismantle and remove that portion of the steeple currently at risk.
# 3 - Complete the work in full to secure the steeple to full structural integrity while exploring any ways to reasonably cut expenses from the total estimate (i.e. making a new weathervane ourselves). It is this option which the Trustees have recommended.
Is there any good news!?
Yes, there is. We are most fortunate that repair/replacement of those support beams can be done with the steeple in tact. We are told, if just one more of those were compromised, this would not have been an option and the costs would be far, far greater.
Can we afford it?
This we can do - more than simply "can we afford not to?" - with a collective effort and creative thinking as a faith community together. Since 1838, South Church has celebrated the union of countless weddings, has comforted so many in their losses, has heard the richness of music and anthems over the many decades, witnessed the prayers of thousands and has launched believers to a life of discipleship in Jesus Christ. The scope for this work far exceeds the $30,000 in our annual budget this current year, even if coupled with this same amount proposed for the 2011 budget. Plus this would leave no funds available for any major needs in the coming fourteen months. Thus this request for your support in addition to our annual pledges.