The Steeple Preservation Project
First Congregational Church, UCC, of Camden at 55 Elm Street is launching a $330,000 project to restore the exterior of its steeple and spire beginning July 26, 2021. The project assures that the steeple and spire will continue to inspire generations as it has for the past 149 years.
The work will require intricate staging to reach to the 110 foot peak of the spire. The work will be done by Taylor-Made Builders, Inc., the lead firm responsible for the 2017 totally new composite spire at the Chestnut Street Baptist Church. Unlike the Baptist church spire, the structure of the First Congregational Church steeple and spire is structurally sound, so only sheathing will need to be replaced. Composite materials in the exact configuration of the present wood sheathing will be used.
First Congregational Church, UCC, of Camden, established in 1805, has a long and active history as a part of the Camden Community. Its congregants met originally in the 1799 Meeting House located on the northeast side of Park and Elm Streets. The church relocated to its present location in 1832 and built what is currently the sanctuary between 1832 and 1834. This early Church had a bell tower, and the large bell which still rings in the present steeple was purchased for that bell tower in 1835.
The Church was extensively modified, including the addition of the current steeple and spire, between 1870 and 1872. 149 years later, the interior of the structure remains untouched and is structurally sound. The exterior of the steeple and spire was re-sheathed in 1949, 77 years after it was built — and now 72 years later, it needs to be re-sheathed again. This time its restoration will feature composite material to protect against the ravages of weather to make it last beyond 72 years. The Church has launched an Inspiring Generations campaign to raise at least half of the funds from its congregation and from the community.
The steeple houses Verizon transmission equipment which is being relocated to a temporary facility on the rear of the church grounds. Rent from Verizon provides income to the Church. This income enhances the Church's mission work, and thus preservation of the steeple is important on many levels.
The Steeple Story
Our 12-minute video is the story of our steeple, how steeples came into being, and how steeples are constructed. It was made by a wonderful local filmmaker Dale Schierholt and is narrated by our own Roger Burke.
Through drone footage taken by Todd Anderson, you will have the opportunity to see the exterior damage that alerted the Trustees to start our initiative to restore the steeple.
For those of you who have never been inside a steeple, you will have a trip up and through the interior of our steeple and will view the bell that has been a part of our church life since 1835.
You are definitely in for a treat!
A Steeple Story from Dale Schierholt on Vimeo.
If you would like to be part of this exciting project to raise $150,000 toward the preservation of our steeple, start by simply clicking our donation button: