The June 1 removal of the Chestnut Street Baptist Church's 44-foot high spire was witnessed by a crowd of onlookers, a couple of drones, and a man who raised money to build the spire in 1980.

Around 5 a.m. a giant crane from the Keeley Crane Service arrived on Chestnut Street with assistance from the Camden Police Department. An area was cordoned off surrounding the front of the church, and work began on rigging the crane and final preparations for the removal of the structure.

A crowd had gathered by 8 a.m., including Pastor Adam Kohlstrom, chief fundraiser for Save the Steeple Jeff Foltz, Taylor Martens, a deacon who oversees church facilities, and Billy Young, who raised $17,000 to build the spire in 1980, as his Eagle Scout project.

Around 9:30 a.m. the spire was lifted silently into the air, and hanging from cables was positioned over Chestnut Street and slowly lowered to the pavement. As it touched the ground, the crowd applauded.

A large banner hung on the scaffolding covering the steeple reads, "Thank you Camden. You've raised $508,000. $30,000 more to the final goal. www.SaveOurSteeple.com."

Spire, steeple and town clock

The new spire will be built by Lyman-Morse. It will be made of a composite material, and will be matched to the color of the original spire. The manufacturing process will duplicate the exterior detail and texture to within one thousandth of an inch, according to Foltz.

Foltz said this will be the fourth time the spire has been removed in the history of the church. The new spire will be built to last 100 years, according to Foltz. Martens expects the spire to be replaced mid-to-late August.

Restoration of the steeple includes gutting and replacing of supports and boards in the interior, and exterior repairs and painting.

Camden voters approved $75,000 at the 2016 town meeting towards the restoration of the church steeple, which houses the town clock, and the spire. The funds raised for the restoration include $48,000 for repairs and restoration to the town clock and the structures that support it.

The current town clock dates to 1910, and was made and presented to the town by the E. Howard Clock Company. The owner, Edward Howard, was a summer resident of Camden. Balzer Family Clock Works of Freeport, completely restored the clock in 1995.

The clock repair involves an intricate process of disconnecting and removing the mechanisms, dials and components, removing paint and rust, applying new coatings, cleaning the special double frosted glass sections and numerous components, reassembling, and installing a protective covering over the clock movement, pendulum, weight tracks and pulleys.

Courier Publications reporter Susan Mustapich can be reached at 236-8511 or by email at smustapich@villagesoup.com.