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Appleton Union Meetinghouse spire comes down for renovations

By Gabriel Blodgett | Nov 26, 2019
Photo by: Gabriel Blodgett The spire of the Appleton Union Meetinghouse, which has stood since 1886, was removed for assessment and renovations Nov. 25.

Appleton — After months of planning and waiting for the right weather and crane, the spire atop the Appleton Union Meetinghouse was removed on Monday Nov. 25.

The spire, which has stood atop the meetinghouse since approximately 1886, has been deteriorating for many years and needed to be removed to conduct a complete assessment of the necessary renovations.

Before the spire could come down, however, the rotten peak of the spire had to be removed, both to preserve the weathervane, and to drop cables from the crane through the hole and attach them to beams inside the steeple.

Dan Miller of Belmont Boatworks, suspended from his crane, cut the tip of the steeple off with a sawzall before climbing inside the steeple to saw each of the six timbers on the hexagonal spire to allow it to be lifted.

He said the beautiful November day provided fantastic views from the top of the spire and said the project provided an exciting opportunity to work on a beautiful old building.

The weathervane, with the famous racehorse Smuggler, was moved to the Appleton Historical Society at the Appleton Library where it will remain throughout the restoration.

The spire was initially planned to be removed on Aug. 26, but Miller determined at that time that the spire was too heavy for his 15-ton crane. At the successful removal, Arthur D. Henry Inc. Crane Service provided a second, heavier crane.

Fred Bucklin, the president of the Historical Society, said the top of the cupola will be capped and weatherproofed by Horch roofing. He effusively thanked Belmont Boatworks, Arthur Henry Inc., and Horch for their flexibility in planning and completing the project.

According to the Historical Society’s Corresponding Secretary, Donovan Bowley, there have been several attempts at restoring the spire in place, most recently in the 1970s, but Miller said there were nine spots where the wood had worn completely through.

Now that the spire is safely at ground level, the Historical Society will be able to thoroughly assess the damage and get an accurate estimate for the cost of the restoration. They will then begin applying for historical restoration grants and begin a fundraising campaign to pay for the repairs.

Bucklin said that anyone interested in donating to the society to help fund the restoration can email him or Bowley at or

The Meetinghouse itself has stood since 1848 when, according to Bowley, it was built as an alternative to the Baptist church constructed three years earlier. In 1886 it underwent a significant renovation, with colored glass windows replacing the original clear ones and the addition of a new tower and spire.

Bowley said the building prospered through the 1920s with regular meetings and a variety of church services that included Unitarians, Methodists, Congregationalists and Quakers.Over the next several decades, though, the membership dwindled as the town declined in prosperity and the building began to deteriorate. Its use became limited to occasional services and graduation functions.The building was kept up by the Memorial Association, but in the 1970s it began to have severe structural problems and in 1974 the town briefly took ownership before transferring the building to the Appleton Historical Society.



Appleton Historical Society President Fred Bucklin with the weathervane that was removed from the top of the spire. (Photo by: Gabriel Blodgett)
The spire was removed with a crane from Arthur D. Henry Inc. Crane Service. (Photo by: Gabriel Blodgett)
The spire will remain at ground level for a full assessment of the necessary renovations. (Photo by: Gabriel Blodgett)
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Comments (1)
Posted by: Mary A McKeever | Nov 27, 2019 12:29

...and history prevails. Thanks to all who worked toward this goal!

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