This project is all about Before and After. Progress. Taking a decrepit, aging old church, a church that no one has much cared about for decades, and stopping the decay. Restoring what was, and possibly making it even better.
For us, one of the most exciting things to see was the restoration of the bell house. We had been dying to see the bell itself, to try to get a clue about the age of the church.
The Precious Bell House. It needed a facelift. Thanks to Ron and crew, it got one!
The bell house is the crowning glory of the church, but even more important for the life of the building is the repair of the roof. It’s big, steep and in quite bad shape.
North side roof, you go first.
After the North side was done, Ron Picard and his crew moved on to the Bell house, as you saw. Then they moved on to the South side. I climbed up with camera in pocket to see the view.
We have a new appreciation for what Ron and Crew are doing up there!
We had to leave before he was finished, so we can look forward to seeing it complete next weekend, weather willing!Very exciting!But even more has been done.
The old glass stays. People ask if we will put stained glass in the windows, but I think not. This gorgeous glass was probably made by the plate process, which replaced the cylinder process, which is a method of blowing glass that replaced the crown glass method. It all happened in the 1800s.
In the early 1800s, crown glass was made when glassblowers blew a large sphere or bubble of glass and spun it until it was a flat disk. They could then cut it into panes, but there was always bump or “crown” in the middle. Around 1825, glassblowers made cylinders instead of bubbles, and when cooled, they were sliced down the side so they could be opened up into flat sheets.
Around the 1880’s when coal was readily available for fuel, glass was made by the plate method, where molten glass was poured into rectangular or square frames. Once the glass cooled, it was polished on both sides. Apparently, after 1890, the development of glass making processes and the uses for it blossomed rapidly.
We’re still trying to pin down the birthdate of the Church, but we’re pretty sure it was late 1800s.
So is glass a solid or liquid? Mineral or not? These are age-old questions.
It’s not a mineral. It has no crystalline structure, which is one of the requirements for mineral-hood. But solid or liquid? It sure feels solid when you run into it, but doesn’t it look like it drips and droops over time? How can a solid do that?
Glass is called an amorphous solid, which means it doesn’t have a crystal structure, but it’s not a liquid. The reason old glass is so warped and warbly apparently is related to what I described above – the old method of pouring or blowing glass. The glass never came out completely smooth, and the warps and warbles stay in the glass once cooled. So the beautiful reflections of the church windows are there to stay forever, unless some unappreciative person removes them to replace them with something else. Not us! We appreciate them!
We were all set for the wood stove install, but snowy weather put the kibosh on it.
So we spent the time nesting, enjoying the feel of this wonderful place.
One thing we wanted to know: what’s the date on the church bell?
Unfortunately, only a contortionist could get up there, so the date of the church still remains a mystery. I poured through information at the Port Austin library, and we’ve got the historical books by the Port Austin Historical Society, but there are conflicting reports. One says the church was built and moved in 1902, but that doesn’t make sense. Why would it have been built and moved the same year? We know it was moved. Some maps have the church closer to Eagle Bay in 1900. We know there was a Presbyterian church but it had burned. There was also a Baptist church according to one account. We did find a 2×4 that was burned on the end; apparently after the fires of 1871 and 1881, folks used whatever lumber they could to rebuild. So it could have been built after 1871 or 1881. Many churches like it were built around that time.
If anyone has information, I’d love to hear it! Drop me a line.
Meanwhile back at the cottage, a peaceful afternoon rolls by.