Steeple restoration has started at the historic Troy Union Church, with help from some historic preservation grant money and local donations.

Norma Rossel, who has been leading the steeple project since summer of 2010, said in a press release that removal of the hanging ceiling, installed in 1954 for insulation, is the first step towards fixing the leaning steeple.

She said the removal will will allow access to the trusses that support the belfry in the 1840 church.

The steeple instability was caused by water infiltration mostly through the belfry, which rotted the supporting trusses, Rossel said. “The main chord spans 32 feet, and is so rotten, a pencil can be pushed right into it,” she said.

The work actually begin in April 2011, when Preservation Timber Framing Inc. of Berwick, installed a wooden stabilization brace in the back of the church that went from the ground to the tower. The brace prevents the steeple from continuing to lean more than it already does, according to the news release from the church.

The truss repairs must be done before the brace can be removed.

The Troy Union Meeting House is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. That listing was a requirement for the funding, wich was partly through the Belvedere Fund Historic Preservation Grants Program of the Maine Community Foundation. The church also got an assessment grant from the Maine Steeples Project of the Maine Community Foundaiton, according to the news release..

Rossel applied for the Belvedere Grant in September 2013 and was informed it was awarded in late November. She said community donations have also helpe pay for the work.

The church is meeting in the B.B. Cook Clubhouse while the work is done, Rossel said.

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