The construction phase of the restoration of historic Troy Union Church began March 2, 2015, when huge eastern white pine timbers were hauled up from the Viking mill in Belfast. The work began a few miles from the church, at the Garcelon House barn, not at the church building, which has been closed since summer 2014. That was when local carpenters removed the suspended ceiling and the bead board ceiling, to allow thorough inspection and access to the trusses under the roof. The removal of the “dropped” ceiling means the balcony is unblocked, and can be seen from the floor of the sanctuary for the first time since 1955. All that remains inside are the pews and carpet, and for the duration of the restoration, the congregation meets at the B.B. Cook Clubhouse just down the road. The timber frame experts of Preservation Timber Framing, Inc. in Berwick had carefully inspected, measured and drawn the trusses, to determine what had to be done to make the truss system work properly. After water had penetrated through the belfry roof, around the tower, and the main roof, the trusses rotted, which allowed the tower to lean into the sanctuary. The leaning steeple will be righted when the truss and tower repairs are completed.
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, to 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 will be moving the trusses and tower timbers into the upper level of the barn on Ward Hill Rd. when weather allows, around April 24. 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.
Norma Rossel April 2015