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Episcopal church needs renovation

WATKINS GLEN—The brick tower of the Watkins Glen St. James Episcopal Church needs renovations.
The cornerstone of St. James Episcopal, one of the first brick buildings in Watkins Glen, was laid in 1863. The Rev. Duncan Cameron Mann conducted the first service on Christmas day, 1864.
The alluvial soil that had been deposited over centuries due to runoff has not provided a firm foundation. Other large buildings in Watkins Glen face similar structural issues for the same reason.
Lacking sufficiently deep footings, portions of the tower have gradually sunk. One side of the tower is lower than the other, and the shift has put pressure on the soft bricks, dozens of which have deteriorated or even fallen to the ground.
Last November, as a safety precaution, church members installed a mesh skirt about four feet from the top of the tower and removed dozens of loose bricks.
The Rev. Michael Hartney said BCK would present its restoration plan, complete with cost estimates, to the church’s vestry in November.
“It will be very expensive,” Hartney said. “More than $200,000, I’m sure.”
To cover the restoration, the church is holding a number of fundraising efforts.
The money raised will help offset the cost of the first stage of the tower restoration project—a $9,500 study by Bearsch Compeau Knudson (BCK), a Binghamton architectural and engineering firm.
The first fundraiser is a lobster dinner, Saturday, Oct. 16, at 5 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. An Appalachian folk ensemble will provide live music between the two seatings.
The public is invited to participate in order to help save one of Watkins Glen’s historic structures. Representatives of BCK plan to attend the dinner and answer questions about their work so far.
The cost is $40 per person. For more information, call 535-2321 or send an e-mail


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