MONTPELIER — Christ Church has passed the halfway mark in a capital campaign to repair and restore the iconic church during its 150th year anniversary and will begin work next month.
The capital campaign, called Hearts on Fire: Forging the Future of Christ Episcopal Church, already has reached its halfway goal of $700,000 goal since it launched in the spring of 2018. All told, the campaign needs to raise $1.5 million for all repairs needed for the classic gothic church.
The capital campaign is to fund significant structural repairs to the Montpelier church built 150 years ago at a cost of $30,000 and consecrated June 2, 1868, shortly after the Civil War. It replaced a wooden structure that stood on a different property.
A fire damaged the sanctuary in 1903, requiring major repairs. In 1963, a stone steeple over the belfry was removed after settling of the foundation compromised its integrity. In 2013, major repairs included replacing much of the slate roof, cleaning and protecting (with acrylic storm windows) many of the stained-glass windows, repainting the sanctuary and minor repairs to the undercroft.
In 2015, after concern about the possible collapse of the northwest corner of the sanctuary, repairs began that resulted in the collapse of a crane onto the sanctuary roof, requiring further major repairs. That work cost, excluding insurance proceeds, $275,000, with funds coming from parishioners, grants and friends of the church.
Priest in Partnership Paul Habersang said he was heartened by the response to the capital campaign.
“The capital campaign has officially closed,” Habersang said on Friday. “We did reach the $700,000 goal. Total renovations to the church would total $1.5 million. In theory, we’re half way there thanks to the generosity of a lot of people.”
Habersang thanked the Christ Church community for contributions to the campaign which included Fred Bashara, Northfield Savings, VSECU, Vermont Mutual and a Division for Historic Preservation matching grant, among others.
“The generous support both within the church family and the greater Montpelier community was inspiring to say the least,” Habersang said. “Because of such generosity, we will be able to perform about half the necessary repairs to our historic sanctuary.
“The reality is that when it comes to maintaining historic structures like ours, planning for continued repairs will be an ongoing task,” he added.
As of Thursday, the courtyard was closed for the upcoming work on the bell tower and the front of the church that is expected to begin Aug. 1. Extensive scaffolding will be erected over the next two weeks, with Alpine Restoration working on repointing the entire bell tower.
“We will also be putting a new roof on the bell tower, which is leaking badly, finishing the slate on the main church roof and replacing the louvers on the sides of the bell tower,” Habersang said.
A survey of the building last year showed that major work needed includes repairs to the rose window and surrounding masonry, bell tower, bulkhead, sanctuary walls, undercroft, flashing, mortar and louvres. Failure to make repairs will result in significant, irreparable water damage to much of the church, the survey warns, adding, “At some point, without repair, the sanctuary will become uninhabitable.”
To learn more about the Christ Church Capital Campaign, visit www.christchurchvt.org.