Southold’s First Presbyterian Church will renovate the church spire next year, although no official start date has been set for the project.
The bell tower will undergo a complete structural renovation of its interior and architectural details and exterior finishes. It started after a routine inspection of the tower revealed the need for the renovation.
âBasically there is interior damage from insects and animals like raccoons and squirrels,â said James Baker, a historic church elder. He said that outside they have to fix rotten woodwork, cracked flashings and a thin lead sheet that is used to prevent water ingress, among other jobs.
The church will also renovate the facade of the building. The repair of the steeple and the restoration of the facade of the church are estimated at $ 200,000 according to Mr. Baker.
The church received $ 3,500 from the nonprofit Sacred Sites Consulting Grant, which is available for renovations to historic buildings and is part of the New York Landmarks Conservancy, and $ 30,000 from the Sacred Sites Challenge Grant for repair costs.
Both grants and donations from the community will help complete the project, Baker said.
“This is the first investment program for this church which is quite significant,” said Baker. âI mean in the past we sort of save money, save money, save money, and then we get the job done. So, this is a bit new for us.
The church has organized and hosted various fundraisers for the project, which have met with great success from the community, according to Baker.
Currently, they have an ongoing raffle ticket with cash prizes similar to âDream Greenâ from hospitals in East Long Island, hosted by the church. They also hosted a Steeple Chase BBQ in July at the Greenport Harbor Brewery and Restaurant. On September 23, at the Islands End Golf and Country Club, the church hosted a golf tournament and auction.
The church has its roots in the founding of Southold by English settlers in 1640. The steeple was erected in 1808. Since then various renovations have been made to the steeple. A bell was added to the steeple in 1855, then the town clock in 1884. Other renovations have been done since, but this is the first since the 1990s, according to Baker.
The steeple represents faith, stability and peace for many members of the community, said church pastor Reverend Dr Peter Kelley.
âAfter passing the 20th anniversary of September 11, I still remember that week and until this weekend, people walked into the aisle, people walked into the shrine, not just members but people from the community who needed to pray, âsaid Rev. Kelley. “And I think the bell tower underscored the meaning and value that the shrine and the bell tower represent to people.”