Thursday, May 6, 2010

Bell Tower of Landmark Church Collapses

From Buffalo-

A part of a Buffalo landmark has collapsed. A section of the bell tower of St. Mary's on the Hill Episcopal Church gave way Wednesday afternoon.

"The steeple that had been unsupported for the last year and a half finally gave way, and it's an interior portion," says preservationist Tim Tielman. "It's a problem we knew was there, the city knew it was there, and we were conceptualizing plans for that." Tielman says the collapse was inward, so no one was hurt. However, the extent of the damage is too great to save the bell tower, so Tielman says the city of Buffalo is scaling back the tower to a height safe from further collapse.

Mayoral Spokesman Peter Cutler says crews responded to the scene Wednesday evening and will be there Thursday morning. One things that will be saved is the bell that was in the tower.

As far as trying to save the church, Tielman says Wednesday's bell tower collapse "will not make it easier." He notes the church still has a great deal of its structural integrity, and major sections are still standing. Tielman says he'll have to be more determined in the meantime.

Tielman says getting a sympathetic buyer for the building will also help in those efforts. The current owner was recently convicted of housing code violations and faces a fine and jail time. TIelman has suggested the city temporarily take over the church through legal action and possibly turn it over to a non-profit or an owner actively interested in reusing the building.

No one was hurt in the collapse.

video here-

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