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Southold’s Presbyterian church begins renovating 1800s steeple

For Bill Boergesson, project manager for North Fork Woodworks, the job his crews will do at First Presbyterian Church of Southold is as much about history as it is about renovation.

Last fall, church elder James Baker said renovation of the historic church’s steeple would begin in the new year. On Friday, standing inside the church with Mr. Boergesson, he said the church is close to meeting its financial goals for the project, which was to begin right after Memorial Day, when scaffolding was erected around the church.

Mr. Boergesson explained that work will focus on renovating the steeple, the roof around it, and the church facade that faces Main Road. And, yes, he said, this is in many ways a typical project for his crews, “but it’s also about community and history. This is a community church.”

Last fall Mr. Baker said the steeple has damage from insects and animals such as squirrels. On Friday he explained the exterior of the steeple and the area around it has rotten wood pieces that will be replaced, showing a number of color photographs of extensive wood rot.

“We will also work on the front of the building,” Mr. Baker said Friday. Costs are estimated at $210,000, with $135,000 of that already raised, he said. The church will hold upcoming fundraisers to help close the gap.

A brochure lists three fundraisers: a cocktail party on June 5 from 5 to 7 p.m. at Dart’s Tree Farm in Southold; a barbecue July 19 from 5-7:30 p.m. at Greenport Harbor Brewery in Peconic; and a golf tournament Sept. 8 at Island’s End Golf Club in Greenport. For information and tickets, see fpcsouthold.org.

The church has its roots in the founding of Southold by English settlers in 1640. The steeple that will now be worked on was erected in 1808. A bell was added in 1855, then a clock in 1884. This work is the first on the steeple since the 1990s.

“We are finally getting it done,” Mr. Baker said.