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Francestown

Lighting damage being repaired

Historic Meeting House to be protected

FRANCESTOWN — Ever since its construction in 1803. lightning had never struck the Old Meeting House — until last July. Now repairs are in progress to repair and protect the building from future strikes.

The damage from the lightning strike was confined to the area of the steeple that holds the bell, said Steve Griffin of Francestown on Tuesday. Griffin is one of nine members on the board for the Old Meeting House of Francestown, Inc., a non-profit organization.

It’s hard to tell where the lightning actually struck the steeple, Griffin said. There’s damage to the siding around the steeple, some of the siding was pushed into the bell area and a portion of one side of the steeple was blown out.

The strike did not result in a fire and the siding issues have not caused any water damage either. The vertical column in the area of the bell was also damaged, but that did not affect the rest of the building, Griffin said.

This week, workers from Skyline Engineers, a Massachusetts company, have been putting plywood over the holes and fixing the vertical column. Griffin said the steeple is expected to be as good as new by the end of next month.

While the crane is on site fixing the steeple, Griffin said, the board will have the engineers install lightning protection, which includes running a copper wire down the center of the building to the ground, like a lightning rod. The engineers will also install steel siding on the steeple and paint the portion of the building between the steeple and the roof.

Insurance on the building covered the expense of fixing the steeple and the board will be responsible for paying for the additional costs, including the lightning protection, steel siding and additional painting. This additional work will cost $37,000, and Griffin said the board already has money saved from donations and yearly fund-raising.

Lindsey Arceci can be reached at 924-7172, ext. 232, or larceci@ledgertranscript.com.

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