Leominster Church Taking No Chances After Stone Falls from Steeple
By Peter Jasinski
LEOMINSTER -- Sidewalks at the corner of West and Cotton streets will remain closed for the foreseeable future after a basketball-sized stone slab recently fell from the steeple of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church and crashed to the ground below.
No one was injured when the stone fell from the church’s steeple onto the building’s front steps roughly one week ago, but the Rev. James Craig said the incident has hastened the church’s plans to reinforce the building’s masonry.
“I’ve been here 22 years and nothing like this has ever happened,” he said, explaining that this was the first time he had heard of one of the slabs getting dislodged. “About a month ago we were talking with the board about getting estimates on getting it repointed, but this has put everything in high gear.”
Though the church has no estimates in-hand yet, Craig said the cost was projected to be $25,000 the last time the church considered making repairs. He said that he expects the cost would now likely be as much as $70,000.
“The last time it was done, I would guess, was in the ’60s. With the age of the concrete, things start to crumble and that’s what we’re facing,” he said.
Local firefighters and an engineer working for the city have already inspected the portion of the tower where the stone slab fell from and did not find that any of the other stones were loose or at risk of falling, said Craig.
The church is now looking to find a structural engineer to inspect the building’s steeple further.
“I’m going to meet with our board again on Sunday. Hopefully by then we’ll have estimates on the repointing work and we can get someone on that,” said Craig. “I want to have this done by the end of summer.”
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