On July 28, 2021

Iconic Grace Church steeple up for repairs

RUTLAND—The Grace Congregational United Church of Christ steeple rises high above Main Street Park in Rutland. But as of last Wednesday, July 21, it’s 6 feet shorter.

By Krista Johnston
A cap was placed on the steeple as a temporary solution while the church raises funds for a replacement finial. Only the lightning rod remains in view.

Jay Southgate from Southgate Steeplejacks in Barre and Ben Classen from Classen’s Crane Service removed the 6-foot finial from the spire of the 199-foot tall church.

Church members first discovered the steeple rot in 2015. As it began shedding wood more and more frequently, they knew they needed to act imminently before someone got hurt.

After monitoring wind speeds and checking the radar — lightning within 30 miles posed a serious risk — the specialists ascended toward the steeple’s tip.

Grace Church property committee member Esther Swett said the church plans to raise money to replace the finial by next spring. Between the crane rental and labor costs, the operation will require several thousand dollars. But the benefit of restoring the historic building — which recently celebrated its 160th birthday — is well worth it.

“I think people enjoy seeing the steeple and the finial on top,” said Swett. “It’s the first thing you see when you’re coming down the new Route 4 from West Rutland.”

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