"It's a beautiful church. I've always noticed this church," said John Wetzel.
Wetzel used to walk by the College Street Congregational church on his way to work when he lived in the Queen City. But things look different now -- the steeple charred and crews carefully removing every piece of slate.
An arson fire did upwards of a million dollars in damage last week. Heartbreaking for many who know Burlington, even if they are not members of the congregation. It's a big deal -- it's sad," Wetzel said.
It's something that seems like it's always been there for most of us," said author and local historian Robert Resnik. He says vistas throughout Burlington include that steeple. It popped up again and again as he researched his book, Legendary Locals of Burlington, Vermont. "That building has been there when the ravine was there. You see old pictures of the church, you see pictures of the lawn before the Fletcher Free Library was built -- there's the church," he said.
Resnik's book focuses on people but he says the outpouring for the church shows some of Burlington's best traits -- creative people, a spirit for change and a deep appreciation for the past. "You know, you think of things like the Billings Library... there's another one, that building -- there's tons of people, even though they have no affiliation with UVM at all, they look at that and say, that is the most beautiful building. Or even Converse Hall... which is another of my favorite buildings in Burlington... But again, if something happened to it, if there was a fire, I think you'd see an upwelling of sentiment... to put it back together," Resnik said.
"It's awesome to see that they're up there. They're looking at it and it will be fixed," John Wetzel said.
Making sure the site is safe is the priority for crews now. A College Street Congregational Church official says that removal of the steeple will likely not start until Thursday. Crews are trying to determine the safest way to dismantle the structure.
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