IRASBURG — For more than 140 years, the Irasburg United Church has been the centerpiece at the head of the Irabusrg common.
For the first 125 years, the steeple was white, but because of a misreading of historical documents in 2002, the steeple was clad in black. There is now a capital campaign to return the steeple to its original white.
“It’s a beacon that welcomes anyone approaching the town from any of four directions,” said Ken Johnson, chair of the church executive board.
Irasburg is on a hilltop surrounded by farmland. The church spire is particularly stunning viewed from the gap on Lowell Mountain.
Its history involves the rotating churches in the 1930’s when the Catholics bought the Methodist Church below the common, and the Methodists consolidated with the Congregationalists.
Fifteen years ago, the roof was rebuilt and shingled through a Vermont historical grant. In the process, the restoration committee, in an effort to meet the requirements of historical continuity, mistakenly copied the black steeple that had been part of the design of the old Methodist church, rather than the white steeple that had donned the Congregational church.
“We expect that it will cost $11,000 to make it right,” Mr. Johnson said. “We’re hoping that the combined efforts of our congregation, together with community members who see the church as essential to the architecture of our town, can make it happen.”
There have been a number of upgrades to the church in recent years, including new siding, repairs to the lower sections of the steeple, a new portico, as well as the sidewalk. But, the black steeple has disappointed the parishioners and townspeople as well.
“The black steeple disappears at night, even with the spotlights. We would really like to see the full steeple in white, especially during the long winter darkness,” David and Evelyn Kennison, who donated the spotlights that illuminate the upper sections of the steeple, said.
To many, such as Deborah Johnson, chair of the Irasburg Church Fair, the white steeple has symbolic significance.
“The white steeple is a constant reminder of the generations of faithful people who have lived in the town of Irasburg,” she said. “We need to continue to honor our community’s heritage.”
Those wishing to contribute to the capital campaign should contact Pastor Rick Shover at (802) 793-5272.