The Rapidian

Iconic Grand Rapids church tower comes down, brick by brick

First United Methodist Church's tower in downtown Grand Rapids is being deconstructed by hand.
First United Methodist Church of Grand Rapids.

First United Methodist Church of Grand Rapids. /Allen Wegener

A closer look at the scafolding surrounding tower.

A closer look at the scafolding surrounding tower. /Allen Wegener

A look at tower from Veteran's Park.

A look at tower from Veteran's Park. /Allen Wegener

Crews have been working to deconstruct First United Methodist Church's tower, located at 227 Fulton St E. The church was formed as the first Methodist Church in Western Michigan in 1831. The Church Tower was built in 1916 at the churches second location where it is at today on Fulton St and Barclay Ave, south of the Masonic Temple.

It will take about six months for mason workers to bring down the old tower and replace it with the new one.

"In place of the old tower will be a new smaller tower that will have a stained glass window with a peaked tower that will be 35 high," Dan Miller, church member and tower coordinator says.

The church tower is an ornamental feature of the building. It's architecture appearence is of the Gothic Style type. The tower is an iconic feature to the downtown area and there are no church bells located inside the tower.

"We've known as a church for about 10 years the condition of the church tower and needed to make a major decision about what to do with it," Miller says. "The bricks came from Milwaukee area and the sandstone from the Toledo area."

Deteriation of interior brick used in the contruction in the early 1900s is the cause of the problem, as stated by a press release put out by Renee Brott, Communications Director of the church.

"There was no heat during the winter time or anything to keep it cool durring the summer so the bricks just deterioted through out the years," Miller says.

The bricks will all be brought down by hand from mason workers using scaffolding. No machines will be used in this process.

"I will not be disappointed to see the old tower come down," Christian Miles, church receptionist says. "I understand the financial decision made by the church that was voted on at a Congregational meeting and the new church tower will be nice."

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