The Winter 2020 issue of the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Preservation Magazine features stories about saving sacred spaces. One of the featured spaces is Philadelphia’s Christ Church Steeple Restoration project, being done by Haverstick-Borthwick Company.

Other GBCA Members involved in this project include the following companies:

The steeple was originally completed in 1754, and for over 50 years, made Christ Church the tallest building in the country. The steeple, however, has undergone several improvements and repairs over time, including repairs after a lightning strike that set the steeple on fire in 1908.

From Preservation Magazine:

Almost as soon as workers finished the church’s steeple, it required improvements. The steeple’s architect, Robert Smith, was called back in 1771 to make substantial repairs. “The ends of the great timbers [were] so rotten as to be a mere powder,” recorded documents at the time. …

Some of the most significant work took place in the mid-1980s, after Keast & Hood’s structural survey revealed the steeple’s lean. In 1985, workers used twin 22-foot-long steel sister beams to reinforce both sides of two of the eight massive vertical posts that support the spire in each of the octagon’s corners. …

Ultimately, Rev. Tim Safford, rector of Philadelphia’s Christ Church,] says that while the current project won’t correct the steeple’s list, it should preserve Robert Smith’s achievement for generations to come. (Listing historic structures are rarely corrected outright, because it’s often prohibitively difficult and can make the situation worse.) The rector marvels at the magnitude of work undertaken by previous generations just to keep the historic structure standing.

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