Monroeville Historical Society solicits donations to repair Old Stone Church steeple

To restore an iconic piece of local architecture, the Monroeville Historical Society is soliciting donations to repair the steeple of the Old Stone Church.

The tower fell into disrepair about two years ago when it slipped from its moorings due to deterioration of its masonry support. Since the publication of a In Monroeville magazine article in early March, the Historical Society received over $27,000 in donations. The cost of the repair would be at least $50,000.

“Everyone sees $50,000 as the total cost, and they don’t understand why it would cost that much,” said Historical Society member Nancy Philpot. “It’s a historic preservation project. There’s more than most people think. Scaffolding must be erected, cranes brought in, and then four poles that support the roof of the tower must be replaced. This means that the roof must come off while the work is being done.

“It’s a little more complicated than I think people understand. But I must give credit to the municipality and the public works department, because they work very hard to do this in the most economical way possible while being careful. »

The initial fundraising goal of $25,000 was met with a single donation from Visit Monroeville. Several additional donations from residents totaled $2,500 at the beginning of March.

“Visit Monroeville, the board of directors, knows how difficult it is, especially right now, for an organization like the Monroeville Historical Society to raise $25,000,” said Sean Logan, vice president of community relations for Visit Monroeville. “This is a project that needs to be done. The bell tower is important to the church and the historical society.

“It’s a tourist attraction, (with) events throughout the year, so we wanted to make sure the project came to fruition. That’s why we wanted to step in and help.

The historical society plans to urge Monroeville Council to prioritize the repair.

Built in 1976 to celebrate the United States Bicentennial, the tower is part of a church that regularly hosts weddings and other functions in the Monroeville area. It was erected about 80 years after the church, located at 2700 Stroschein Road.

“It’s a very popular wedding venue,” Philpot said. “One of the key parts of marriage has always been ringing the bell when they get married and walking out of the church. The church’s location makes it iconic. It’s right next to the Miracle Mile [Shopping Center]. It just stands out as, in my opinion, the center of town.

But Philpot said there was some resistance.

“The addition of the bell tower in 1976 was a bit controversial, from what I understood from some of our former members. For some reason they didn’t necessarily think the steeple needed to be added,” Philpot said. “They’ve been quite vocal about whether or not we’re fixing it now. But he’s been there for 40 years. It’s historic. Just because it was erected during their lifetime doesn’t mean it isn’t historic.

“So we went out. We convinced them. They are totally on board now.

Contributions may be mailed to the Historical Society at 2700 Monroeville Blvd., Monroeville, Pennsylvania 15146, or by credit card to monroevillehistorical.org. A GoFundMe titled “Help the Bell Ring Again!” opened March 2, raking in $300 since.

“Based on the feedback I get on (GoFundMe), a lot of people think it’s an iconic part of the landscape,” Philpot said. “I just always loved when we had our meetings there for the historical society. It really is a beautiful church, inside and out.

Those interested in volunteering in fundraising efforts can contact Philpot at [email protected] or 412-510-7568.

Wes Crosby is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.

Jerry B. Hatch