Ask anyone in Lyndon and they'll tell you the First Congregational Church on York Street has been crumbling for years.
"I've driven by it for 38 years saying jeez, somebody ought to do something about that," said Jim Gallagher of the Upright Steeple Society.
After the interstate was built, the once vibrant community church lost parishioners and services stopped 15 years ago. But some in town still have a soft spot for the space.
"A lot of history here," Leland Taylor said.
Taylor got married here 40 years ago. And his bride is one of its two surviving members. The 183-year-old church-- with its tilted steeple and rotten support system-- needed a savior.
"And it isn't just about a church. It's about a community; a community coming together," Frances Labay Taylor said.
In 2009-- a Hail Mary. The Upright Steeple Society was born. The volunteers have been raising money for the renovations ever since. Fixing the foundation meant the entire building had to be lifted off the ground with hydraulics. And there was only one man for the job. Norman Messier has moved more than 2,000 buildings during his 35 years in business. But this job was different.
"This one is so special because the community wants to restore the building and try to make it a showcase for the town," Messier said.
So inch by inch the father and son team helped the ancient church rise up while crews below added the safety supports. The rest of the summer will be spent installing drainage, pouring the concrete foundation and putting in permanent supports for the steeple. After the foundation work is finished, renovations will move inside for a much-needed facelift.
"I'm 63 and I said my funeral is going to be here, so they better get crackin,'" Frances Labay Taylor said.
The iconic Estey Pipe organ will stay while plumbing, heat and handicap access is added. In the end, it won't be a church at all, but a meeting house for the whole community.
"I looked out and I just started sobbing and some guy I've never seen with out of state plates came over put his arm around me and he says, 'Everything OK?' And I said, 'Oh, it's more than OK,'" Frances Labay Taylor said.
A piece of history preserved for generations to cherish.
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