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Francestown

Lightning strikes historic steeple

Siding blown off Francestown’s 1801 Old Meeting House; no structural damage found

  • Lightning hit the steeple at the Old Meetinghouse in Francestown late Wednesday afternoon.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • Lightning hit the steeple at the Old Meetinghouse in Francestown late Wednesday afternoon.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • Lightning hit the steeple at the Old Meetinghouse in Francestown late Wednesday afternoon.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • Lightning hit the steeple at the Old Meetinghouse in Francestown late Wednesday afternoon.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • Lightning hit the steeple at the Old Meetinghouse in Francestown late Wednesday afternoon.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • Lightning hit the steeple at the Old Meetinghouse in Francestown late Wednesday afternoon.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)

FRANCESTOWN — A brief afternoon storm in Francestown left its mark Wednesday, when lightning struck the Old Meeting House steeple, taking off a portion of the siding.

The strike could be heard through much of the surrounding area, including the Police Station, which is across the street. Police Chief Steve Bell said he heard the lightning, but he didn’t realize it had hit the steeple until residents called in to say there was a gaping hole in the historic structure, which has been at the center of the community since 1801.

Bell, along with Fire Chief Larry Kullgren and Steve Griffin, president of the Old Meeting House of Francestown Inc., went out to assess the property, and make sure the lightning hadn’t sparked a fire. Kullgren went up the stairs to the steeple to make sure there was no chance of a fire igniting, and declared it clear, Bell said. The side of the steeple was damaged, with the siding blown off, and the open portion of the steeple, which houses the bell, had damage to its interior walls. The lightning didn’t do any structural damage, though, noted Griffin in a phone interview Wednesday, shortly after the lightning strike.

“Obviously it could have been terrible,” Griffin said. “It could have damaged the structure or it could have caused a fire, and right now it appears that none of that happened.”

The siding that was blown off does give the steeple its support, so with the strike stripping away a portion of the wood, there are some concerns about the stability of the steeple, Griffin said.

The Old Meeting House is insured, Griffin noted, and the damage will likely be covered by the insurance plan.

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