Asbury UMC Steeple
Replacing What Once Was
This project involved the design and construction of a new steeple structure on top of an existing tower of this 120-year-old church.
Client: Asbury United Methodist Church
205 S. Main Street
Harrisonburg, VA 22801
Project Type: Religious
Contractor: Engineering Solutions
Located in downtown Harrisonburg, the church originally had a steeple in this location but was removed 60 years ago due to damage and deterioration. The vision for a new steeple with a bell came from church member Steve Gardner and his wife, who wanted to initiate and donate to this project in remembrance to his parents who had been members there.
We began by viewing old photographs of the original steeple (which did not have a bell) and studying how we could incorporate a bell and carillon into a new structure that resembled the original one. Different designs were presented to the church committee and they selected the final design.
We then began the tedious effort to determine how to build and support the new steeple. The existing masonry tower did not meet the current code for supporting a new steeple of this size, so we designed a steel structure for the steeple which anchors down inside all four corners of the tower for a distance of about 25’.
The steeple was constructed on the ground, including the slate shingles, and then lifted into place by a crane, where it was bolted to the new steel structure that had been installed.
As a final nod to the past, the original copper “finial”, which had been saved from the original steeple, was cleaned and reinstalled atop the new steeple.
Once again, a beautiful steeple towers above this stately church, and the music of church bells echoes up and down Main Street.
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