Spire removal still planned for meetinghouse

By Gabriel Blodgett | Oct 08, 2019
Photo by: Gabriel Blodgett The removal of the spire on top of the Appleton Union Meetinghouse is still planned for this year.

Appleton — After the removal of the spire atop the Appleton Union Meetinghouse was delayed because of concerns about its weight, Appleton Historical Society Corresponding Secretary Donovan Bowley said, the society has continued to work with Belmont Boatworks to arrange its removal before winter.

The spire, which has stood atop the meetinghouse since about 1886, needs to be removed to conduct a full assessment of the necessary renovations.

The spire was initially scheduled to be removed Aug. 23, but as previously reported, after inspecting the spire from the inside, Belmont Boatworks owner Dan Miller said the six oak beams supporting the tower, combined with a large center column of chestnut, would likely have exceeded his crane’s 3,000-pound limit.

“It was a much heavier structure than we envisioned,” Bowley said.

He added that a Belmont Boatworks employee was able to climb up inside the spire Aug. 23 and found some rot close to the top, which may pose further complications in the removal process.

Bowley said the society remains in contact with Belmont Boatworks, which must borrow a heavier crane for the removal. With many boats coming out of the water at this time of year, a crane is not readily available at the moment, but Bowley said the the society remains committed to removing the spire and getting the meetinghouse closed in before winter.

Bowley said the Historical Society, which met Oct. 8, has considered alternatives to removing the spire, including bringing in lifts to work on the spire in place and staging around the spire, but those were deemed unreasonable. Because of the building’s inclusion on the National Historic Register, Bowley said, the Historical Society continues to be in contact with the Maine Historical Preservation Commission to ensure the spire removal plans are approved.

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