Rockport in Essex County, Massachusetts — The American Northeast (New England)
First Congregational Church of Rockport Steeple Rehabilitation
This is the bell from the steeple of the First Congregational Church of Rockport. It is the bell that is rung hourly by the Town Clock, still owned by the Town of Rockport. It is also rung by means of a rope and bell wheel on special occasions. Nearby are the cupola-like "lantern" from atop the steeple and a 38' post. At different times, you may also find weathered old structural members or their new replacements.
The steeple is undergoing a rehabilitation project that has been planned for several years. The project has several goals, one of which is to replace siding and flashing high on the steeple that has been degraded by exposure to the elements. When in their usual positions high on the steeple, the lantern and bell are supported by eight large wooden posts. After removing the degraded siding and flashing, these posts were found to be water damaged, and they need to be replaced. The lantern and bell had to be removed to access the posts, and the posts have now been removed as well. The post on the lawn is the one that was in the best condition of the eight, and it will be used as a model for the
Other parts of the original project include the replacement of a water-damaged corner post and repair of surrounding structure lower in the steeple, replacement of the "bell deck" roof that leaked and allowed water to infiltrate, replacement of the bell wheel, restoration of the weathervane, and replacement of the "kingpost" in the lantern that supports the weathervane. A second corner post was also found to need replacement. The areas where the corner posts are being replaced are next to the north and west-facing clock faces. They may be open or covered by a blue tarpaulin. The weathervane has been restored and will be returning to the church soon.
This large project is expected to continue through much of the summer. By fall, the church expects the steeple to be fully restored and looking as good as ever.
The cost of the original steeple restoration project was estimated as $265,692 in 2015. This figure included the cost of a project to rewire the sanctuary
Repair of the newly-discovered structural damage will add significantly to the cost of the steeple project. As of this writing, the church is awaiting information that will allow it to estimate the added cost. The engineers at Structures North Consulting have built a 3-D computer model of the steeple and are designing a replacement structure that will use modern materials and construction methodologies. They will work with the steeplejacks at American Steeple and Tower to develop construction plans. The church will figure an estimate of the additional
About the First Congregational Church
Founded in 1755, the First Congregational Church of Rockport is an Open and Affirming congregation of the United Church of Christ. One of its founders, and its first pastor, was Ebenezer Cleveland, who served as a field chaplain in the French and Indian wars, yet also founded Dartmouth College, with its emphasis on higher education for Native Americans.
The building that now serves as the church sanctuary was built as the Sandy Bay Parish meetinghouse in 1804. On Sept. 8, 1814, during the War of 1812, the British frigate Nymph launched a barge to invade Sandy Bay. When the meetinghouse bell sounded the alarm, the crew fired at the bell to silence it. The shot failed to damage the steeple, and the cannon went through the bottom of the barge, sinking it. The cannon is nearby on the lawn, and the church still has the cannonball.
When Sandy Bay became the Town of Rockport in 1840, the meetinghouse was completely redecorated and the steeple enlarged to support a larger bell. Around this time the nickname of "The Old Sloop" was conferred by the fishermen. In 1842, the Massachusetts General Court released the meetinghouse to the Congregational Church.
In 1843, the church voted a strong resolution supporting the Abolitionist movement. In 1865, ex-president
Erected by First Congregational Church of Rockport.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Abolition & Underground RR • Churches & Religion • War of 1812.
Location. 42° 39.494′ N, 70° 37.132′ W. Marker is in Rockport, Massachusetts, in Essex County. Marker is at the intersection of Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 22 Main Street, Rockport MA 01966, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. The First Settlers of Sandy Bay (a few steps from this marker); Bear Skin Neck (about 600 feet away, measured in a direct line); Rockport World War I & II Memorial (about 700 feet away); Old First Parish Burying Ground (about 700 feet away); Harvey Park (about 800 feet away); John Pool (approx. ¼ mile away); Cannon from the U.S.S. Constitution (approx. ¼ mile away); Town Wharves (approx. ¼ mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Rockport.
Credits. This page was last revised on March 28, 2018. It was originally submitted on March 27, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. This page has been viewed 94 times since then and 6 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on March 27, 2018, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. 7. submitted on March 28, 2018. • Andrew Ruppenstein was the editor who published this page.