Drivers passing Parkade Baptist Church on Monday morning slowed to catch a glimpse of something that hasn’t happened in 23 years. Dangling in mid-air was a 65-foot, 3,500-pound steeple that has crowned the church at 2102 N. Garth Ave. since the new sanctuary was dedicated in 1984.
“This is the first time I ever took one down,” said Pete Wilcoxson, one of a three-man crew from Boone Construction Co. at the job Monday.
The steeple came down for the same reason homeowners and car owners called their insurance companies last March: hail damage. It dented the steeple’s white aluminum siding so much that it looked like someone had pelted it with golf balls. The storm also broke windows and damaged the church’s three roofs and siding.
“Replacing the steeple is the last step in the process,” said Alberta Gilpin, Parkade’s director of education and administration. “The storm just beat it up.”
Boone County Millwork is in charge of replacing the steeple. Howard Parish Jr., project sales coordinator for Boone County Installs LLC, an exclusive installer for Boone County Millwork, said a new steeple will cost about $70,000. Removing the old steeple and replacing it will cost about $97,000 in total, he said.
The cost of all repairs to the church, including the new steeple, will be covered by the church’s insurance company.
The new steeple -- made by the same company that built the old one, Campbellsville Industries in Campbellsville, Ky. — will be mounted as soon as it arrives, probably Feb. 19. It will look just like the old one, minus the pockmarks.
“We hear that it is quite an ordeal to get it here,” Gilpin said. “It is a five-day trip on the road.”
This week, however, the church’s top is bare, and the old steeple is sideways on the icy lawn at Parkade Baptist, surrounded by yellow tape. It is scheduled to be taken apart by Friday.
Parkade Baptist, a Southern Baptist congregation, has been in Columbia since 1967. As it happens, replacement of the steeple coincides with renovation of the sanctuary this year. It’s symbolic, Gilpin said, “of out with the old and in with the new.”