The Second Congregational Church in Newcastle is in the midst of a major roof replacement project set for completion in early summer.
The project is something that has been in the works for quite some time, according to Wilt Jones, the co-chair of the church’s roof system restoration committee.
“We know this is something that has needed to be done for a while,” Jones said. “We’re trying to preserve the historic nature of the church to the best of our ability.”
The 1849 building was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.
The church serves as a meeting place for various events and organizations, including the Damariscotta-Newcastle Rotary Club, Red Cross blood drives, the Old Bristol Garden Club, and many more.
“We’re very lucky to have such a church that is so well-used by the community, and we wanted to make sure it could continue that community outreach,” Jones said.
Over the years, the church has addressed various issues, from fixing a leak that caused the basement to flood to patching bricks, Jones said. In 2009, the church renovated the steeple.
A few years ago, the church trustees determined the structure of the roof needed to be addressed. The roof system restoration committee was formed and began planning the project in 2014.
With the help of Mid-Maine Restoration, of Edgecomb, and Gartley & Dorsky Engineering & Surveying, of Damariscotta, investigation, minor repairs, and analysis began in spring 2015 to determine the areas of the roof that required immediate attention.
Mid-Maine Restoration explored the extent of repair and renovation required to preserve the structural integrity and watertightness of the roof and prevent further deterioration to the building, Jones said.
Mid-Maine Restoration determined the roof structure supports and the belfry tower structure were among areas that required attention before addressing the roof itself.
Gartley & Dorsky provided engineering design, bid administration, and construction support services for the project. Their design addresses masonry, carpentry, gutter work, electrical work, and roof application.
Interior construction work in the attic of the church began in December 2015. Ganneston Construction Corp., of Augusta, the general contractor for the project, has built safer access to the attic, improved the lighting, and replaced some wooden posts and beams, some of which were original.
“We really wanted to focus on improving the structure’s interior integrity before we get outside and start work on the roof,” Jones said.
Seacoast Scaffolding and Equipment erected scaffolding around the building in March in preparation for the external work. Jones said the church previously contracted with Seacoast Scaffolding for the 2009 steeple restoration.
Additional preparations for the external work are currently being made. Crews are in the midst of constructing five spires to replace the spires that had deteriorated due to water leakage.
Jones said Ganneston Construction hopes to begin external construction work April 4, dependent on the weather. Included in the plans are masonry work, gutter area repair, bell tower repair, the replacement of the spires, adding ventilation for the attic, and the repositioning of the 1,300-pound church bell, which is estimated to be more than 160 years old.
Ganneston will replace the roof once all other work has been completed, Jones said.
“We think we can get all the work done by July, depending on the weather,” Jones said. “We’ve gotten really lucky lately, so we’ll hope that continues as the work moves outside.
The entire project, estimated to cost more than $400,000, was made possible by a bequest by John A. Andrews, a member of the church for 60 years. During his time in the congregation, Andrews donated a new sound system to the church in memory of his mother and began taping church services for members who were housebound or living in senior care facilities.
Andrews passed away in 2012.
“He was the community’s unsung hero,” Jones said. “His bequest is the reason we have been able to do this work, and we are very fortunate and thankful for all he did for the church.”