No one would have questioned the organist at Trinity Episcopal Church for switching from sacred music to Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head during a summer service last year at the Seneca Falls, NY, church. She didn’t, but raindrops did keep falling on her head … and on the newly restored pipe organ, part of the sanctuary and even some pews.
A special roof committee was established – Doug Avery, Steve Barto, Marilyn Cator, Irene Ferrante, Ted Flock and Carolyn Zogg – to isolate the problem. It was worse than they initially thought. In addition to shingles, there was damage to gutters, flashings, eaves and even the wood facade was crumbling in spots. And, because the church is in the town’s historic district, all the work had to be restorative. The cost – $300,000.
This bit of news tempered the joy of the completion of a previous restoration project that included restoration of the organ, re-leading and repairing the tracery that holds the magnificent Rose Window, structural reinforcement masonry work and a new copper roof to the bell tower and correcting plaster cracks in the Chancel arch. That project started in 2010 and was completed in 2011.
On the up side, bids for the project came in lower and there was still some money left in the state restoration grant. Enter Fran Caracillo, who was able to re-write and extend the grant application to include the latest fix. The state agreed to match 100% to get the roof repaired.
The congregation dug into its pockets again and came up with a significant chunk of the $150,000 match needed. While big gifts are and were welcomed, little gifts are and were also appreciated. Mitchell, 11, Olivia, 9, and Brandon Mastan, 7, responded to the call by raiding their piggy banks, then came up with the idea to used bottle and can deposit money for a “Roof Fund.” That fund is up to around $200.
The committee also sought help from the county, town, banks and businesses to try and help move the numbers along. Thus far, about two-thirds of the needed local share have been raised. A final community push is underway to reach the goal.
Built in 1885, the church plays an active and important role in the community. It is well used throughout the week, a craft group, yoga and Seneca Singers use the facility on Mondays. A Tuesday Funday is scheduled and bell choir and choir practice is held there. A Prayer Circle and AA meetings are on site. A Neighbor’s Dinner Out is held once a month. Last month, during the tragedy in VanCleef Lake, the church was open to provide warmth and comfort to the first responders. Next month, it will host the Seneca County Chamber of Commerce’s Business After Hours.
It is also an historic and cultural landmark that draws visitors every day who admire its beauty and take pictures. During the It’s a Wonderful Life Weekend, over 200 people toured the church and the breakfast sold out quickly. Boaters move closer as they pass by. Guests, some from far corners of the world, tour the church annually. It is featured in the state’s “I Love New York” publications as well much of the Finger Lakes Region’s promotional material. The building is recognized as one of the most photographed churches in the entire state.
The committee named Caracillo project manager. He is working with Engineer Randy Crawford of Crawford and Sterns as they develop specs that hopefully will go out in the spring. Work would begin in the fall.
Barto emphasized this was not a patch. The entire roof will be replaced with asphalt shingles. Although originally built with slate tiles, the asphalt shingles were put on about 50 years ago, before the church’s historic status was recognized. Copper will be used instead of more inexpensive aluminum and color swatches will match the paint per state historical guidelines.
If you’re interested in making a tax deductible gift, send it to Trinity Church, 27 Fall Street, Seneca Falls, NY 13148, Checks should be made out to Trinity Church with “Roof Fund” in the memo line.
A bright blue tarp has been placed over a portion of the roof overlooking VanCleef Lake to protect the newly-restored organ and pews. That’s what is wrong with the picture.
THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: Only you can decide the direction of your life. Only you can decide your mood. Only you can determine your attitude.