Save The Historic Troy Union Church
The Restoration of the Troy Union Church
The rotten truss and tower timbers have been recreated. A new king post truss has been added to the original design, to assure the new trusses will be strong enough together to hold the south edge of the bell tower for at least two hundred years more. Careful workmanship by local craftsmen made this possible. Scott Pfeiffer, Marvin Daugherty, Jr., and Adam Joy, all Troy residents, and experienced artisans, have worked hard to shape classic mortise and tenon joints, which when joined or fitted together, make the connections between the timbers. The kingpost and queen post trusses are shaped like huge triangles. The Troy Church carpenters , along with Lee from PTF moved the trusses and tower timbers into the upper level of the barn on Ward Hill Rd. on April 24th. The next step will be to raise $96,620 to complete Phase 2. During that phase, the main roof of the church will be opened to the second bay, and the old rotten wood inside the church will be removed, and the new trusses will be installed within the historic building. The cap of the tower will be removed with a crane, and the bell lifted out. The tower will be repaired, and a copper roof will be installed on the cap. Then the cap will be lifted up and replaced on the tower. The roof will be sealed up to weather, until phase 3 can be funded. The project is about saving a 175 year old small country church and preserving the unique early American workmanship and architecture of the Troy Union Church bell tower. The bell has been rung since the 1840’s in times of peace and war. And, really it’s a story of faith, family, community, history and heritage.
The next task was to stabilize the tower to prevent the situation from getting worse before repairs could be made. In April of 2011, the crew from PTF built a robust timber frame under -the sagging chord of the truss. Then, on November 11, 2011, the church was entered into the National Register of Historic Places by the National Park Service, which is a requirement for grants and funding.
A five phase plan has been developed – the first three phases cover the construction – building the trusses, opening the roof to install them, rebuilding the tower and re-sheathing the roof to make it weather tight. Phases 4 and 5 involve finishing the exterior trim and renewing the interior. The first phase (building the trusses) is funded and was completed on March 31. At the end of April, the new trusses and tower timbers will go into storage, until funding for phase 2 can be raised. How are we going to do this? Fund raising will take place in two stages – The first will involve phase one through three will cost $175,000. A greatly appreciated grant has already been received from Belvedere Fund Historic Preservation -- a program of the Maine Community Foundation. Other private donors have been identified. The Troy Union Church has launched a Capital Stewardship Campaign, going out to visit over 40 households to explain the Restoration Project and garner support. Norma Rossel, church trustee and project coordinator is applying for a Maine Steeples Project Steeple Restoration Grant, funded by the Maine Community Foundation. It is wonderful to have this type of grant which is specific to the needs of Maine churches. We depend on having community matching funds and other support.
Why does it matter?
It’s also about preserving our common built heritage. These buildings are important. Too often local landmarks have been razed for short term economic gain (or temporary tax advantage) or simply left to collapse – preyed upon by weather and decay. We are left with just grainy photographs, dog-eared postcards and regrets. And years later the question is asked, “What a wonderful building -why didn’t anyone save it?” Consider the loss of Bangor’s elegant Union Railroad Station. The buildings say lot about common aspiration, ambition and pride. 175 years ago, citizens together fashioned a classical landmark that was grander than any of their individual homes, barns, or shops and placed it on a high spot on a main road so all could see it. It said ,”We are a town”. Today, Troy has but two historic community buildings (both endangered) that proclaim this town was built by those who believed that Troy mattered to the people who lived there. The church can also an accessible place for other community gatherings – large enough to seat many, small enough to be intimate, with good acoustics, without politics, that evokes the town’s history. In the past, it has been the setting for musical performance, of talks, of meetings. It can be that again.
Economically and environmentally, restoration of the Troy Union Church makes sense. Outside of the truss and steeple system, the building and foundation is very sound – built with quality materials that would be difficult and expensive to acquire today. And considering the carbon cost, embodied energy in the historic materials, waste that demolition brings and cost of using all new materials, building new would not be a responsible choice.
Finally, the restoration of the church is about community building and is, in many ways, an economic driver. It has been a long time since community members pitched in together for a “barn raising” or in this case, maybe a re-raising. Large wooden trusses being built -- local young craftsmen working with a renowned restoration firm. There is money being spent locally – from lumber sawn in the county, money spent at nearby suppliers, skills learned and wages paid to local resident carpenters who are committed to the community. The money spent is returned to the community in local taxes paid and products purchased at local stores. The local craftsmen employed reinvigorate our community by living here with their families and restoring a landmark – a landmark that will proclaim this is a community with civic pride. And it is through voluntary community contributions in so many ways – labor, financial, in-kind donations, and simply talking about the project to their families, friends and neighbors that will make it all happen.
Tax deductible donations can be sent to: Treasurer, Troy Union Church., 230 Bangor Rd, Troy, ME 04987