All that was left of the picturesque First Church of Monson’s steeple right after the June 2011 tornado ripped thru town was a pile of rubble and splintered wood.
Now, more than a year and a half later that steeple – formerly the highest structure in Monson – is slowly being resurrected.
“It’s very missed,” said long time Monson resident Katrina Martins. “I liked it when the ding of the bell went off. It helped me with the time. But it will be nice to have it back.”
After months of design and planning, and getting final approval from the state – workers began weeks ago removing what was left of the steeple from both the inside and outside.
“Right now it’s not too bad but when they were doing all the demo, dust was everywhere,” said First Church of Monson pastor Bob Marrone.
Rev. Marrone has been pastor at the church for the last 8 years. He says the church has a history of mishaps with the steeple.
Back in 1879, for reason still unknown, it collapsed.
Then during the hurricane of 1938, it came down again.
After this latest destruction, the building may have been damaged, but the congregation remained resolved in its faith.
“We were able to use this space right from the day after the tornado. We had a prayer service that next day. And we’ve used it on a regular basis ever since,” said Marrone.
For this latest reconstruction, all new materials is being used. And as it did before, the steeple will serve as an AT&T cell tower. But from the outside, it’ll look exactly the same as the old one. Though this time, as parishioner and civil engineer Paul Hatch explains, it will be built to last. “We’re sure this one is going to stay,” said Hatch “This one is going to be made out of concrete and reinforced steel, where of course the previous ones were made out of wood.”
The new steeple is expected to be completed by June, which will coincide with both the 2 year anniversary of the tornado that destroyed it, and the end the church’s yearlong 250th anniversary celebration.