Frederick church raising money to save historic spire

If you look at the seal for the City of Frederick, you’ll notice five spires. They all mean a lot to the people who live there but one may mean just a little bit more: the spire at Trinity Chapel.

Frederick was founded in 1745. That same year, the Evangelical Reformed Church and the Trinity Chapel were also founded.

In 1763, they built this stone structure that would eventually house the official clock of the city of Frederick.  In 1807, they made it taller, adding the spire and moving the clock even higher.

It remains the official clock of the City of Frederick.  The city owns and operates the clock, the church owns the rest of the spire.

Now, that spire is in need of dire repair and the Evangelical Reformed United Church of Christ owns the church and is trying to raise $1 million to save this historic piece of Frederick. 

"This clock tower represents Frederick to the world. It is inconceivable that Frederick would lose its first spire and its clock tower, and for this reason alone, we are called to maintain it," said Peter Brehm, a leader of the church.

David Cooney leads the Clock Tower Restoration Committee of the church and says he’s met a receptive audience on the funds they need, but the church is seeking more help.

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"It’s been very good," Cooney said, "The church understood it, we had good conversations around it, the community’s been very receptive. Everybody loves the tower—nobody can imagine it being gone, and they understand it costs a lot of money."

The original cost estimate was going to be much less, but once engineers took a look at the structure, they realized that more extensive work needed to be done within the spire to save it.

The spire, lantern, clock and belfry sections of the steeple, as well as roof repairs are needed.

Julie Butler works for The Durable Restoration Company which does preservations of historic buildings.  She’s led work on other Spires in Frederick and plans to lead this restoration as well.

"Every material has a certain life span and the majority of the materials used in this specific structure have outlived that lifespan, that lifespan being more than 200 years," Butler said.

Of the $1 million they’re hoping to raise, the church and donors have already committed half.  The other $500,000 is what they’re trying to raise via community donations and grant programs.

David Cooney says this is an iconic part of the city.

"Even though the city owns the clock and we own the tower as a church, this belongs to the city, it belongs to the county, it’s been part of this city from the very beginning, everybody enjoys it, everybody benefits from it, just the visual parts of it, the sounds and the sights, and we just think it’s a treasure," Cooney said.

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