- Advertisement -
  • Most Commentedmost commented up
  • Most Emailedmost emailed up
  • Popularmost popular up
- Advertisement -

« News Home

Unitarian steeple being removed

Published: Thu, January 10, 2013 @ 12:01 a.m.


Matt Alspaugh, minister with the leaning steeple..The First Unitarian Universalist Church of Youngstown, on elm has decided to remove its steeple, which has fallen into disrepair, and store it at CASTLO Industrial Park pending possible restoration or replacement.




Steeples often are the crowning glory of a church.

But the one at First Unitarian Universalist Church has fallen into disrepair, and the congregation has taken action to avert a safety hazard.

Brock Builders Inc. is preparing the steeple for removal. If the weather cooperates and preparation progress goes as expected this week, the steeple will be removed next week.

Brian Brock, owner of the general contracting

company, said the project is challenging, but he has some experience. In 2004, his company rebuilt and reset the steeple at St. James Episcopal Church in Boardman after it was damaged by a fire.

The Rev. Matt Alspaugh, pastor of the church at 1105 Elm St., found plans detailing the design and dimensions of the 96-foot-6-inch steeple. The brick base is about 34 feet; the louvre, which has water damage, is 18 feet; the lantern, which has windows, is 7 feet; and the spire is 37 feet.

Brock estimated that the spire and lantern weigh about 6,000 pounds. The windows in the lantern will be taken out before it’s taken down. These two pieces will be removed as one section. “We’ll have rigging around it,” he said. Lifts are being installed for the removal process.

A crane will be used to lower the spire and lantern. Once on the ground, the two parts will be separated, crated and then trucked to storage. The Rev. Mr. Alspaugh said Sarah Lown, a church member, made arrangements with CASTLO Industrial Park in Struthers to store the pieces. The pastor said the dimensions of the spire and lantern didn’t lend themselves to storage at the church or a self-storage site. The industrial park is providing storage space for free to help the church.

The louvre, Brock said, will be demolished on site because it is not structurally sound. His company also will put a “cap” on the steeple space. Ron Faniro Architects has provided design assistance.

The church conducted its annual meeting Sunday and voted to remove the steeple. In an email, Karen O’Malia, church board president, acknowledged the “steeple had fallen into disrepair.” She said windstorms last year blew off pieces, prompting the church to address the issue. Mr. Alspaugh said pillarlike structures on the steeple were removed last April.

The pastor said the congregation of about 170 members will explore costs and options concerning the steeple. Some members would like the steeple to be restored exactly, he said, because it is located within the Wick Park Historic District.

Others are concerned about the cost of restoration, he continued, and some have suggested steeple alternatives such as solar panels or a wind turbine.

“We hope to invite all our stakeholders, our members, but also our neighbors and mission partners, the community at large, in on the discussion,” Mr. Alspaugh said. “Decisions about church buildings can sometimes become divisive, so we really want to explore all the options thoroughly. The storage option buys us time to make a thoughtful decision.”

The church, founded in 1892, originally was downtown. It moved to its current site across from Wick Park in 1925, and the sanctuary and steeple date to that year. A religious education wing was added in the 1960s.


1kurtw(967 comments)posted 2 years ago

I'll be sorry to see it come down- I think, spatially, it makes a lovely and graceful statement- one of the best in Youngstown.

If they had more members they might be able to sustain it- but 170 just isn't enough to maintain a building that size.

If Unitarians had stayed closer to their 19th Century Liberal Roots (read: Individualism, what we call Conservatism today) instead of becoming 20th Century Liberals (read: Collectivists)- they might have enough people to rebuild their Steeple. That's my view.

Suggest removal:

2kurtw(967 comments)posted 2 years ago

Actually, if you look at Unitarian-universalism in general, it's a pretty great tradition- connected with just about everything that's best in this country.

Why, in a Metropolitan Area of 200,000 at least, they can't get more than 170 members is pretty sad.

It's either sad for them- or it's sad for us. Or both. I'm still trying to figure that one out (maybe, tonight, as I sleep Ralph Waldo Emerson will come to me in a dream and tell me the answer).

Suggest removal:

3oldskool(97 comments)posted 2 years ago

Most mis-understood Church in the nation.

Suggest removal:

4jar(2 comments)posted 2 years ago

As a long time member of UUYO I am proud to be a member of the congregation. As far as why we are such a small group I think we are more or less a"mutt" when it comes to religions. Unlike mainstream denominations we tend to move forward with history and disdain dogma. We do have a rich history in the U.S. and part of the problem is our teaching of real history leaves something to be desired. On a personal note, the sign outside the church was my design and I'm very proud of that.

Suggest removal:


HomeTerms of UsePrivacy StatementAdvertiseStaff DirectoryHelp
© 2015 Vindy.com. All rights reserved. A service of The Vindicator.
107 Vindicator Square. Youngstown, OH 44503

Phone Main: 330.747.1471 • Interactive Advertising: 330.740.2955 • Classified Advertising: 330.746.6565
Sponsored Links: Vindy Wheels | Vindy Jobs | Vindy Homes