More photos added

Ascending into heaven

New spire takes its place atop Chestnut Street Baptist Church
By Susan Mustapich | Sep 08, 2017
Photo by: Susan Mustapich The new spire of the Chestnut Street Baptist Church returns to the top of the steeple Sept. 8.

CAMDEN — There are miracles, and then there are engineering miracles.

On Sept. 8, a crowd of onlookers all held their breath for a split second when the newly constructed 50-foot-tall, 7,000-pound spire of the Chestnut Street Baptist Church was lifted from the ground, attached to the guy wires of a crane only at its base.

For some time, the crowd had been watching the slow process of attaching the guy wires to the timber structure at the base of the spire that later would be bolted to timbers inside the church steeple. After the wires were attached in eight locations, the crane lifted the spire inches off the ground, and the spire swayed back and forth a bit. Adjustments were made, the crane was lowered, and more adjustments were made.

When the spire lifted for its ascent to the top of the church steeple, it was absolutely still. It remained upright, without any perceptible swaying, as the crane swung the structure over the top of the church, where construction workers waited. More time passed as the spire was positioned, and the process of attaching it to the church began.

The spire was made by Lyman Morse in Thomaston of a composite material instead of wood — making it virtually maintenance-free for many decades.

Among the onlookers were the Lyman Morse crew who built the spire, headed up by Steve Crane, composites manager; and members of the Chestnut Street Baptist Church, including Taylor Martens, a deacon who oversees church facilities, is the project manager for the church construction project, and is owner of Taylor-Made Builders; Jeff Foltz, chief fundraiser for Save the Steeple, which raised more than $500,000 for the steeple and spire restoration; and Pastor Adam Kohlstrom. Martens and Crane, who is also a member of the church, have worked together on building projects before.

Kohlstrom said he was thrilled to see the spire returned to the church. He said that as people came up to congratulate him, he pointed out that "this wasn't me. There were so many people that made this possible, from our work group that did the fundraising, to our facilities manager [Martens], who helped bring together all of the pieces of the puzzle. I feel like I've been along for the ride, and glad to be able to enjoy it and see this all come together."

The old spire was removed by crane on June 1. Scaffolding covering the church steeple will remain through the rest of the month, as Camden's town clock is returned to the structure. It is hoped that the entire project will be completed, and scaffolding removed, before the end of September, according to Kohlstrom.

Courier Publications reporter Susan Mustapich can be reached at 236-8511 or by email at

The wires of an enormous crane are attached to structural timbers at the base of the 7,000-pound, 50-foot-tall spire of the Chestnut Street Baptist Church. (Photo by: Susan Mustapich)
The newly polished weather vane is placed on top of the spire, before being lifted by crane onto the Chestnut Street Baptist Church steeple Sept. 8. (Photo by: Susan Mustapich)
The spire approaches the top of the Chestnut Street Baptist Church in Camden. (Photo by: Susan Mustapich)
Hanging from the crane, the spire is maneuvered into position Sept. 8 in Camden. (Photo by: Susan Mustapich)
The spire is lowered into place on the structural supports within the steeple atop the Chestnut Street Baptist Church in Camden Sept. 8. (Photo by: Susan Mustapich)
Members of the Lyman Morse composite team that built the spire, from left: Mike Nile, Robert Harper, Jon Condon, Brian Harper and Steve Crane, composites manager. (Photo by: Susan Mustapich)
A crowd of onlookers all along Chestnut Street in Camden Sept. 8, watch as the new spire is lifted and then lowered onto the steeple of the Chestnut Street Baptist Church' (Photo by: Susan Mustapich)
Comments (3)
Posted by: Joanne L Richards | Sep 14, 2017 17:32

Great job Lyman Morse crew!  You are more than just boats!!


Posted by: Mary A McKeever | Sep 08, 2017 18:48

Love it! Camden at it's best! Historic value at the core of Camdenites.

Posted by: Richard McKusic, Sr. | Sep 08, 2017 14:03

Very community involved faith family. Weekly Community Breakfasts, bi-weekly Community Coffee House; with excellent music and refreshments. Theirs is the example of God's love that  builds HOPE for the future. KUDOS to all who made this happen; including the Camden selectmen. 

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