In about a month, observant hikers in the Green Mountain hills will notice a difference when they gaze out at the Lakewood area from above. Where they used to see a prominent wooden steeple arising from Green Mountain Presbyterian Church, they will see a shinier and stronger version of the structure than what they remember.
Fifty-seven years after the first cornerstone of Green Mountain Presbyterian Church was laid, its steeple is undergoing a massive restoration project. The goal of the project is to secure the structure for the future, prevent leaking and keep it maintenance-free, according to the church’s website.
In 2020, the architectural engineering firm Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates, Inc. (WJE) conducted an analysis of the steeple and found that its wooden beams were rotting, according to L.J. Porter, an elder on the steeple committee. This damage was contributing to leaks into the sanctuary over the years, he said.
After trying to find a solution for the leaking during his years as a facilities elder, Porter is excited that a steeple restoration is finally happening.
“I struggled with trying to fix the silly thing for 20-some years,” he said. “It’s nice to see we got some money to really do a good fix on it.”
For most of the church’s history, leaders treated the steeple with linseed oil to prevent water damage, but this method required maintenance efforts that could not be continued, said John Walp, a facilities elder on the steeple committee.
Thanks to their partnership with WJE, the church now has a more advanced solution. They will build a metallic shingle casing around each of the old wooden beams of the steeple, said Jenny Wahlberg, elder of facilities and chair of the steeple restoration project. Electro-colored stainless steel shingles will repel water and protect the wood from further deterioration, she said.
“It’s going to strengthen the whole thing for years and years and it’s maintenance-free,” she said.
In addition to protecting the steeple from water damage, the metallic casing will protect it from strong winds that are common in the area, said Scott Greene, elder of finance and stewardship and a member of the steeple committee.
According to Pastor Gretchen Wilson, the renovation brings aesthetic benefits as well.
“(Congregation members) know it’s been a problem over the years and I think they’re really excited that not only the problems are going to be fixed, but it’s going to be beautiful,” she said.
The majority of the funds for the project were granted to the church by a local foundation, according to Wahlberg. To raise money for the rest of the project, the team turned to its congregation. The steeple fundraiser, which ran from May 8 through Sept. 1, surpassed its $40,000 goal with a total of $41,500, according to the website.
“Our congregation’s great,” Greene said. “And the money just started coming in and each week I was just amazed – I expected it, but I was still amazed.”
With many churches struggling these days, the elders said they hope the new steeple will inspire curiosity about Green Mountain Presbyterian and will show that it’s a viable, inviting and warm place.
“The thought of it being this beautiful steeple, now covered with this metal cladding system that is so distinguished, on this skyline in this west part of Lakewood, I think is just absolutely thrilling. To think about that being such a beacon of light,” Wilson said. “And that’s of course what we want our church to be for this community.”
The construction will be carried out by Empire Roofing, according to Wahlberg.
According to Walp, the scaffolding for the construction workers was set up in August. Wahlberg said she did not know exactly when the construction would begin, but it is estimated to take 30 days to complete once it starts.