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Church Steeple to Adorn Nation's Capitol

Church Steeple to Adorn Nation's Capitol

Posted - Dec. 16, 2004 at 9:03 p.m.



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Carole Mikita ReportingA Utah manufacturing company is working on a unique project, restoring a piece of history in the nation's capitol. Carole Mikita takes us behind the scenes to see how a church steeple is made.

Impressive, even on its side, the yet unfinished spire will stand 72 feet tall. 15 feet by 15 feet at the base, it is made of aluminum with a fiberglass skin and weighs 18,000 pounds. What's even more impressive is the story behind its creation. The building it will adorn sits five blocks from the White House and from the nation's Capitol.

Don Williams, Owner & Partner, Unlimited Designs: “You can tell there’s a huge emphasis on restoring history. That’s one of the things that’s driven this project, that city has required this restoration to take place.”

The church has looked the same for decades, but it is obviously missing something; old photographs from the mid-19th century show a much more striking edifice with the steeple. A tornado hit the capitol on July 30th 1913. In a Washington Star article of September 13th a reporter wrote, ”Another of the landmarks, or skymarks, of Washington is passing away. The spire of Calvary Baptist Church is being torn down."

Unlimited Designs is in the steeple business, making literally hundreds a year, but none was as intricate and few as historically significant as this one.

The project has presented a challenge over several months for 10 to 20 craftsmen at a time, from the clock face, to the finials, to the supports.

Don Williams: "The chances of ever making anything like this again, it's not gonna happen. You get to do it once, you get to figure out how to do it right that first time and that's what you get. So that's what I love to do."

The workmanship done there will complete a house of worship in Washington, linking both the past with the future and one part of the country with another. It will be a month before it’s completed; then Unlimited Designs will send it by truck across the country. We'll keep you posted.

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