Historic Church Hill bell tower has structural lean

Posted at 11:06 PM, Jul 16, 2012
and last updated 2012-07-16 23:06:54-04

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR)--A series of strong summer storms in Richmond has taken a toll on the historic bell tower of a Richmond church--that now has a structural lean to it.

Now an effort is underway by the church to save the potentially dangerous structure.

The church, built in 1906 and located at 27th and Q Streets in Richmond, is in serious need of repairs, said neighbors who live nearby. They think it is beginning to show its age.

"Seems like it’s really fallen into disrepair over the last couple of years,” Amy Swartz, with the Historic Richmond Foundation, said.

Based on an Internet site, it appears the church is called Spirit of God Ministries and they purchased the property in June 2010. The picture we found on Google Maps showed that it was in much better condition when the photo was taken in 2009,” said Swartz.

Neighbors said that recent storms have only made things worse, including slate tiles that fall from the roof.

"Well when I first saw it, they had like caution tape up and when I noticed, like it was starting storming and whatever, the top of the building was like caving in, but as it started raining more, then the whole church looks like its about to fall in,” said Destini Hocker, who lives nearby.

The church sits at the intersection of an area of Churchill under renovation, and some say that a renovated church would be a plus for the community.

"It’s very heartbreaking, very heart concerning, you know, you see something like that falling down and you know that at one time, it was a very vibrant piece of our community,” Tom O'Kelly, Jewel's Inc General Contractor, said.

"Apparently they're looking for donation of a budget of $750,000 dollars to restore the church,” said Swartz.

Church Members aren't the only believers in the building, and owners could possibly find help outside the neglected walls.

"Historic Richmond Foundation would like to put the owners of the church in contact with professionals who could help them with tax credit applications, the tax credits could really help with the financial burden,” Emily Davis, with the Historic Richmond Foundation, said.