PEPPERELL — It’s a bit past the anticipated August completion date, but scaffolding that surrounds the renovated Community Church steeple may be coming down within two weeks, Grounds Committee Chairman Paul Viera said.
The work is 90 percent done.
Turning posts above the clock that had been leaning inwards and their decapitated railings have been replaced with plastic and wood (AZEK) copies, Viera said last week. The wooden clock face and original wooden hands have been refinished and the numerals are refinished with Italian gold leaf.
Last Friday, a crane hoisted a new window for the steeple. The wooden spire is redone and painted anew.
The original weathervane made by Howard Webster, a blacksmith at Sturbridge and the father-in-law of long-time veterinarian Dr. Warren Phillips, again sits atop the steeple. It is larger than what had been there and is supported by a new base made of Spanish cedar.
“American Steeple (the American Steeple and Tower Co. Inc., of Salem) did a tremendous job,” Viera said.
Even though most of the work was cosmetic because the basic structure of the steeple was solid, the project has cost well beyond $160,000, partially paid by the congregation and some minor grants. A fund-raising campaign continues.
“We’ve had some money coming in but most of it has come from our reserves,” Viera said. “We really tapped into our emergency fund; it’s way down. We’re concerned between stock market earnings down and this expense.”
Last winter, the large windows facing Townsend Street were replaced, addressing heat and traffic noise issues. Residents could buy a window for $5,000 and have their names inscribed in a plaque beneath the window for $1,000 more.
The Community Church is the second at that spot, built in 1861. The first, constructed in 1831 as the Unitarian First Church of Christ, which burned in 1859, was built after a split with the First Parish Church that stood across Park Street near the flag pole and cemetery.
Nearly $100,000 was spent on scaffolding, removing and replacing shingles, moldings, louvers, installing a copper roofing system (Revere copper) and reinstalling the Community Church’s 1,000-pound bell and its rope, as well as for painting. Clock repair and the golf leaf cost about $6,200. Lightning protection was added for about $3,600.
Chipped and peeling paint, most visible when entering the building, will not be painted this year, Viera said. It was last done in 2000.
“It’s hard to keep this up to par. We’ve also done a lot of boiler work,” Rev. Priscilla Lawrence said. “The church is open to any churchgoer. We have lots of weddings, funerals and baptisms,” she said.
Interested persons can contribute by sending money to the Community Church of Pepperell, P.O. Box 320, Pepperell, MA 01463. They can contact Lawrence through the Web site www.pepperellchurch.org.