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.
Saturday, May 25 2013 10:30 PM EDT2013-05-26 02:30:05 GMT
A burglary at the Dorset Union Store. Police say the Church Street business, in Dorset, was broken into sometime late Friday night or early Saturday morning. At this time, we do not know what was stolen.More >>
Police search for a suspect that left his blood at the crime scene.More >>
Saturday, May 25 2013 8:13 PM EDT2013-05-26 00:13:06 GMT
Governor Peter Shumlin is urging Vermonters to be vigilant as the rain continues to come down. Especially, he says, with the possibility of wet snow that could bring down trees and damage property. ShumlinMore >>
Governor Peter Shumlin is urging Vermonters to stay safe as the rain continues to come down.More >>
Saturday, May 25 2013 8:09 PM EDT2013-05-26 00:09:12 GMT
First responders scrambled to drain a private dam Saturday afternoon to avert major damage. Officials say the dam on Poker Hill road in Underhill nearly burst Saturday afternoon. Members of the localMore >>
First responders scrambled to drain a private dam Saturday afternoon to avert major damage.More >>
Saturday, May 25 2013 7:58 PM EDT2013-05-25 23:58:16 GMT
Rain-battered state roads in the hardest hit areas of Underhill and Jericho are re-open to traffic, but that doesn't mean the work is done for crews. "It's been a very challenging two-day event here soMore >>
As the rain continues to pour down, response crews are not getting a break.More >>
Saturday, May 25 2013 7:51 PM EDT2013-05-25 23:51:37 GMT
Driving along Route 15, you may notice some roads have reopened as crews guide drivers cautiously around the cracked gravel. But driving down roads like North Underhill Station, you won't get very far. ConnerMore >>
While needed repairs are being made, more work is ahead.More >>
Friday, May 24 2013 11:30 PM EDT2013-05-25 03:30:10 GMT
A hole in the road closed one of the routes into Canada Friday.State Police say Route 5 in Derby Line is closed near Caswell Avenue because of a hole in the pavement just a couple of feet over the lineMore >>
A hole in the road closed one of the routes into Canada Friday.More >>
Friday, May 24 2013 7:17 PM EDT2013-05-24 23:17:06 GMT
It was a storm that left residents with more damage than they could have ever imagined. "The basement has about 13 inches of water," said Bob Genter of Underhill. And preparing for the aftermath of theMore >>
Flash floods left destruction across the region. And the rain is not over. Heavy downpours left some people trapped in their neighborhoods as emergency crews work to try to clear the roads.More >>
Friday, May 24 2013 7:20 PM EDT2013-05-24 23:20:50 GMT
As the cleanup gets underway from Thursday night's flash flooding, the focus shifts now to the broader impacts of rising rivers from around the region. All the rain so far and more to come is running intoMore >>
All the rain is running into larger streams and rivers that are moving rapidly toward flood stage.More >>