In a town steeped in history and as conscious of its past as Woodstock, the restoration of a well-known landmark like the St. Luke's Anglican church steeple is kindly regarded by many.
It's not like we've got an oversupply of steeples in the Shiretown either.
Rev. L. N. Harding, rector of St. Luke's should know. He spent many an hour last summer dealing with the problems of rebuilding their 1883 vintage steeple. "Unless you call what's on the United Church a steeple," he said, "I guess we've got the only one left in town". The United Church, whose cornerstone is dated 1907 has a much shorter, four-sided steeple which might be 25 feet high.
Age - a question of rotted timbers - was the problem at St. Luke's. After 94 years maybe we'll all be a little wobbly. Wendell Everett of Waterville was the contractor for the restoration.
The steeple was totally repaired and nothing had to be dismantled permanently. The church also received two coasts of white paint at the same time, brightening it up considerably from its former grey.
Commenting on the job, Rev. Harding chuckled when he said, "The contractor told me 'it should be good for another 100 years!', but that wasn't a guarantee!"
"It's more solid now than it has been for a very, very long time. For years when they rang the bell the steeple creaked and groaned. But there's no movement now."
"Our present church was built in 1882 and it's the second church to be built by that set of plans. In 1881 fire took a large part of Woodstock including a partially completed church of the same design."
"The cost of the steeple repairs and repainting of the exterior was between $8,000 and $9,000. We felt very furtunate to have it all done for that. In fact it didn't cost any more to repair the steeple than we were quoted to have it taken down."
Before old age and lightening started devasting the church steeples, the skyline of Woodstock was lined with them. The Baptist, Wesleyan and Presbyterian churches all have had steeples removed within the last 15 years.
From some places across the river many of these venerable old steeples could be seen pointing heavenward. Hazen Craig, a clerk in the Woodstock Post Office, is also one of the church wardens at St. Luke's. During repairs to the church last summer a fellow from Grafton, who is not an Anglican, came into the Post Office and handed Hazen a donation for repairs, saying he didn't want to see it go down like the others.