Old Steeple Community Church has a new steeple. But for the record, the church is not changing its name.
Workers today used a large crane to lift the new steeple structure to the roof of the belfry on the Main Road, Aquebogue church and slowly lower it onto vertical steel masts.
The new approximately 52 1/2 foot tall steeple is to be topped with the existing spire and weathervane.
The project was undertaken by Verizon Wireless, which is locating cell communications equipment in the steeple for itself and two other carriers, T-Mobile and AT&T. The carriers had existing cell communications equipment in the existing steeple. The completed new structure stands at the same height as the one it replaced.
Old Steeple’s previous steeple was built in 1939 to replace a steeple that was destroyed by the 1938 hurricane.
The 1939 steeple was restored in 1978, to repair and replace decaying wood. The steeple was in need of extensive repair work again and Verizon proposed to replace the steeple with a new structure made of lightweight, RF-compatible sheathing. Its appearance is substantially similar to the wood steeple that was removed. The Riverhead Planning Board approved the site plan last August.
There was a surprise inside the 1939 steeple when it was dismantled: a time capsule. Old Steeple Minister. Anton DeWet, Old Steeple minister said the time capsule hasn’t been opened yet. The church has to decide when to open it — though he and parishioners are extremely curious and excited to find out what might be inside.
There’s no record of what was stashed away in the time capsule — or even when it was packed and placed in the steeple. Was it in 1939? Or in 1978, when the steeple was restored.
The church itself was built in 1862. It replaced a church that was sold and moved to Riverhead, where it was used for stores, according to the Old Steeple Community Church website. The congregation’s first house of worship, however, dated back to before 1750 and a church on the south side of Main Road, on a portion of the land where the Aquebogue Cemetery is located.
Verizon’s contractor on the new steeple installation is ComCell Construction, according to documents filed with the Riverhead planning department.
RiverheadLOCAL photos by Denise Civiletti
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