The 61-year-old steeple, which rises to 128 feet from the ground, has a failing timber inside, a church official says. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)
By JOHN T. WARD
A cracked timber in the steeple has forced the temporary closure of the landmark First Presbyterian Church at Tower Hill in Red Bank.
Borough officials ordered the church and an adjoining school closed Tuesday morning after structural engineers could not rule out a catastrophic collapse of the 70-foot tall steeple, said construction official Stanley Sickels.
“In these situations, you either get to see it before it collapses or after,” he said. “There’s no way of knowing” what might trigger a failure.
The discovery prompted the shutdown of the Tower Hill School, as well as the relocation of Sunday services and community group meetings that serve hundreds of congregants and visitors each week, church property manager Rob Wallman tells redbankgreen. It could also derail a wedding planned for next week.