Our shop has been working on an exciting project, for a new timber frame steeple for the Grace Episcopal Church in New Bedford, MA. We are working directly with General Contractor, Cenaxo, LLC., a firm in whatisasteepleConnecticut that specializes in restoration projects. The beautiful church is in major need of renovating the steeple and will be replacing it with a timber frame version this Spring.

The Grace Episcopal Church was constructed with beautiful masonry in 1880 and it’s architecture is truly stunning. In 1987, according to the church’s website, they had a fire that destroyed the interior of the church, but the bones of the church still stood. Over the course of four years, the church was rebuilt. How wonderful to be able to preserve this historic beauty, even more special since it survived a major fire. 

About the New Steeple

The new steeple for Grace Episcopal church is constructed out of Dense Select Structural Douglas fir and is roughly 35′ tall! To give you an idea on how tall this structure is, it’s a few feet taller than a typical two story house. Now, that’s tall!

Our shop crew put together the spire here at our facilities (what is a spire? Read below) which totaled 21′ of the structure, and due to shipping logistics, the remainder 14′ will be assembled on-site. This tall beautiful timber frame structure was engineered by Structures North in Salem, MA and the structure is engineered to last 100’s of years. Imagine that! The timber frame also features metal straps, connectors and fasteners so that it can withstand any harsh weather that may come its way.

Due to strength and longevity, this is a reason why many choose timber framing. There are timber frame structures that have stood the test of time in Europe and Asia that date back several hundred years.

History of Church Steeples

In writing this blog post, we decided to research the importance of steeple’s, and the history is in fact, quite interesting. Yes, we know steeple’s are tall and beautiful, giving a church a dramatic look. But is this the timberframesteepleonly reason why steeple’s exist? According to our research, steeples are a common architectural feature that signifies a religious structure worldwide. Often churches were some of the tallest structures in town back in the old days.  The height of the steeple helped so the church could be found and heard, too. Heard you say? Many church steeples feature a clock and some feature bells, or both, to let the community know there is service. The added height helped so that the sound of the clock or bell could be heard. A steeple has also been viewed as an attempt to reach the sky towards heavens and the divine (as stated on wikipedia, photo on the right also from wikipedia). All we know, is there is nothing more New England than seeing a church steeple and hearing that clock or bell ding.

Now onto the construction of the steeple. There are typically four components of a traditional steeple, the base level being the tower, where the clock is most often located if a church features one. The next component is the belfry where the bell is typically located. The third component (which isn’t always part of the steeple) is the lantern. The lantern is typically an ornate feature used to dress it up. And the final component of the steeple is the spire. The spire is typically either octagonal or square, depending on the design of the belfray. 

There you have it, the history on the church steeple! We certainly hope you enjoyed this blog post not only on the history of the steeple, but also to learn how versatile our business is. We do not only construct beautiful timber frame homes, but can also assist on specialty projects like the Grace Episcopal Church steeple. We will be sure to share more photos once the installation is going on at the jobsite! 

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To learn more about Davis Frame, call 800.636.0993!