Strong winds knocked a pinnacle on the Winter Street Church’s steeple loose last week. Sagadahoc Preservation, the nonprofit organization that owns the 177-year-old Bath church, is seeking donations to help fix the pinnacle. The nonprofit is unable to fundraise due to COVID-19 restrictions. Photo courtesy of Alicia Romac 

BATH — Sagadahoc Preservation Inc., which owns the 177-year-old Winter Street Church in Bath, is seeking donations to repair a pinnacle on the steeple that was knocked loose by heavy winds last week.

Andrew Wilcox, owner of Mid Maine Restoration secured the 10-foot-tall wooden pinnacle shortly after the damage was noticed. Wilcox plans to remove it from the church entirely on Saturday and examine the roof underneath before re-anchoring the piece.

“It needs to be removed first just to make sure gravity doesn’t take it down,” said Wilcox. “The framing underneath didn’t feel that great last time I was up there, so I think there needs to be some exploration to make sure when it’s fixed, it won’t break again.”

The main building is no longer a church and is unusable while it awaits repairs to its vaulted ceiling after heavy rain and a leaking roof damaged the space in 2015. The debris has since been cleaned and timber scaffolding was installed, but the ceiling itself hasn’t been restored. The adjoining parish hall serves as a community space that can be rented for wedding receptions, corporate events and other large gatherings.

Alicia Romac, development chairwoman of Sagadahoc Preservation, said the nonprofit will have to pay at least $1,000 for the insurance deductible and may have to pay a portion of the repair cost, which isn’t yet known.

“Any damage at this point is difficult to pay for because we have no way to fundraise or earn money by renting the space due to COVID-19,” said Romac. “Our hands are tied but our checkbook is open.”


The volunteer-run organization was forced to cancel its largest fundraiser of the year, the Historic Homes and Gardens Tour in June, which typically brings in $10,000 to pay for the church’s insurance and utilities.

“Our rental income is nonexistent now due to COVID-19 and not being able to do the house tour is a severe blow,” said Romac.

Last month Gov. Janet Mills announced a statewide stay-at-home order, which prohibits Mainers from leaving their homes for “all but essential activities” such as grocery shopping, seeking medical care, or exercising outside. The order is set to expire on April 30, but the governor can extend it or impose new prohibitions should coronavirus continue to spread.

Citing the Maine CDC, The Portland Press Herald reported confirmed 907 cases of COVID-19 and 39 deaths as of Wednesday.

The gleaming white Gothic Revival-style church at the corner of Winter and Washington Streets in Bath, across the street from the Patten Free Library and Library Park, was built in 1843 by Anthony Coombs Raymond of Brunswick, according to Sagadahoc Preservation. Maine architect John Calvin Stevens designed interior alterations in 1890 and 1913, and Bath native Francis Fassett built the adjoining Parish hall in the Italianate style in 1864.

In 1971 the Sagadahoc Preservation was created to halt plans to demolish the old wooden church to build a five-story brick apartment building. Ten years later, the church steeple was taken down and replaced with an exact replica, funded by federal and state restoration grants.


“We’re moving in a direction with these historic buildings where they no longer serve their original purpose, but they’re still intrinsically valuable because they speak to our heritage and Bath’s history,” said Romac. “Having these works of art in our community is something everyone can benefit from.”

The church is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, which could cause problems, said Nathaniel Doak, a local builder and restoration specialist and Sagadahoc Preservation board member, because when pieces of a registered building break, it’s usually repaired with the same material.

“Wood today isn’t what it used to be,” said Doak. “Wood used to have a really tight grain, which means it was more watertight, but now it’s a bigger grain which sucks in more moisture and rots faster.”

Still, Greg Paxton, executive director of Maine Preservation, a statewide historic preservation nonprofit, said historic buildings like the Winter Street Church are worth saving.

“These buildings represent the history of the community,” said Paxton. “We’re inheriting them. Generations have maintained these buildings and now it’s our turn.”

Donations can be made via the nonprofit’s website,

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