Historic Christ Church gets one step closer to steeple restoration

John McDevitt
April 03, 2019 - 5:26 pm
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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — One of the oldest original structures in the nation, Christ Church in Old City, is in need of serious preservation work to its steeple, and fundraising efforts are underway.

One of the oldest original structures in the nation, Christ Church in Old City, is in need of serious preservation work to its steeple, and fundraising efforts are underway.
John McDevitt/KYW Newsradio
Christ Church's main structure was completed in 1744. Many of our forefathers, like George Washington and Benjamin Franklin, were congregants. 

The steeple was added in 1754, making the 196-foot building the tallest in the country for about 50 years.

After all those years, and sustaining a 1908 fire from a lightning strike, restoration is needed.

Related: Old City Bar Starts Fundraiser To Help Neighboring Church

The steeple is currently leaning 22 inches, and stabilization and other repairs like masonry work and painting are needed.

Rev. Timothy Safford, the rector of the church, took KYW Newsradio up the steeple by climbing rickety old ladders almost to the top.  

"You'll see this steel structure up in here, and then what we are going to do in this next project is insert vertical steel beams into this upper steel structure and run it up through the open part of the steeple," he said. 

Just about everywhere you look, names of workers and dates are marked into beams from their trips up the steeple through the years. 

The restoration project will cost $3.1 million. The National Endowment for the Humanities took the latest bite out of that figure with a $500,000 grant. About $605,000 is still needed.

Work is expected to start in June.