Restoration of Steeple To Be Celebrated

It’s been a long journey, but on Saturday at 5:00 p.m. the Church of Christ Congregational will hold a town-wide celebration to mark the completed restoration of its 211-year-old steeple. 

Attendees will be invited to view the steeple, which underwent extensive restoration, and then to raise a glass and enjoy some cake at a reception inside Battell Chapel.

The sun is expected to smile on the event but in case of inclement weather it will be moved entirely inside the chapel.

“We’re so excited the steeple is back,” said Pastor Erick Olsen. “Everyone is over the moon. It’s the culmination of so much work, so much support, so much generosity, so many well wishes. It’s just an absolute joy!”

He added that during Saturday’s program, which will include comments by local dignitaries and members of the Steeple Committee, a commemorative plaque will be unveiled. People will also hear the steeple’s bells chime “for the first time in a long time.”

Designed in 1813 by master builder David Hoadley, the church—which was constructed on the same site as an earlier one built in 1760—includes an elegant steeple that rises from a square clock tower in two octagonal stages capped by balustrades and a tall spire. It bravely endured 206 years of exposure in a town dubbed the “Icebox of Connecticut” before restoration began.

By then, deterioration was so severe it was feared that a 45-mile-per-hour wind could send it toppling to the ground. Faced with this fact, the steeple was gently detached and lowered into a specially designed cradle beside the church just days before Christmas 2020. Last January, with the structural damage repaired, it was triumphantly hoisted back atop the sanctuary, where the final work was done under a protective shroud of plastic.

With a successful capital campaign behind it, the church even had enough money to repair the belfry clock and chimes, which play a melody written for them by Robbins Battell, a grandson of the Norfolk’s first pastor, Ammi Ruhamah Robbins.

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