A pastor at a historic building in Portsmouth is picking up the pieces after its steeple came tumbling down Saturday.
The Evangelical United Church of Christ in Portsmouth was damaged from adverse weather Saturday, causing the church’s steeple to entirely fall. No one was injured in the accident and cleanup has already begun.
“The sanctuary was spared any damage,” Joshua Lawson, the church pastor, said. “No structural damage occurred, and the main building was spared almost entirely.”
The roof of the church has taken damage as the spire from the tower collapsed suddenly due to high winds. Most of the rubble and debris had fallen into the church courtyard, which resides at the center of the original structure.
Lawson stated that people were in the building approximately an hour before the event, but no one was present at the time of the collapse. There have been no claims of injury from the damages to the church.
Debris littered the sidewalk around the church, and cleanup began Monday to remedy the surrounding area. The cleanup crews are working to make the area safe and accessible once more and expected to have it cleaned within the next few days.
During the time it takes to clean up the debris, the intersection of fifth and Washington Street is closed. Police will be able to open the area once it is deemed safe and clean.
An inspection will be underway soon to make sure there is no serious damage and repairs can begin on the structure originally built in 1887. The costs are fluctuating, but Lawson believes that insurance will handle most of the costs. If it does not, there is an online source allowing members of the church or the community to donate. Lawson said the link can be found on the church’s Facebook page as well as their website.
The German-built structure underwent significant repairs during the flood of 1937 when several feet of water stood in the main hall. Soon the brick church will be revitalized once more, once repairs begin. The original name of the church is still etched in German upon the bell tower, as little damage occurred to the tower itself. The wind localized most of its force upon the steeple, causing it to collapse upon the roof, sidewalk and courtyard.
Lawson is hopeful of the situation and believes everything will be OK. He states that once it is cleared, repairs can begin, and services can resume as normal. As early as this upcoming Sunday he hopes.
The pastor of the Evangelical United Church of Christ with calm demeanor stated that the community and congregation need not worry. All will be taken care of in time, and the ancient church will be whole once more. “The damages are only temporary,” Lawson reassured.
Reach Bailey Watts (740) 353-3101 Ext 1931
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