Church: $100K in steeple work to begin soon

James David Dickson
The Detroit News

Fort Street Presbyterian Church has hired a contractor to address its sloping steeple, knocked off its axis by the windstorms of March 2017, and work could begin as early as next week, the church said in a statement released Thursday.

Strong winds have blown the steeple at Fort Street Presbyterian Church in downtown Detroit off kilter, but the church has plans to fix it

"The expedited repairs are anticipated to begin next week, as early as Jan. 30, and will see a large crane occupying a traffic lane for approximately two weeks," the statement read.

Church secretary Lola Davidson said Wednesday that the steeple is secure. Thursday's statement reiterated that, saying that the steeple is "strongly cross-braced and is securely fastened to the building with steel cabling."

The church has been planning a fix since November when an insurance settlement came through, said architect Robert Sharrrow in the statement. Sharrow is church treasurer. 

“We know that the steeple looks unsightly in its present condition," Sharrow said in the statement, "but we have already contracted with the Detroit Cornice and Slate Company to make the immediate repairs needed to restore the steeple, and have anticipated since December that a crane would soon be on site as part of that effort."

For a time on Wednesday, the Michigan Department of Transportation visited the site, at the behest of Detroit's Buildings, Safety, Engineering and Environmental Department, said spokeswoman Diane Cross. MDOT briefly closed off traffic lanes in the steeple's path, but by 7 p.m. had left the site and reopened the lanes to traffic.

The fix will cost "in excess" of $100,000, church elder and spokesman Tim Moran said. The church is hoping to get $40,000 in donations to offset those costs.

The November insurance payout was for $33,000, and the church had to pull the rest from its endowment. 

"We're not the world's largest congregation," Moran said, and the church's operating budget couldn't cover the repairs. 

The church building and the steeple date back to 1876.