Calvary Baptist Church to restore historic steeple

For 140 years, Calvary Baptist Church has been a local landmark in the Whittier neighborhood in south Minneapolis.

But soon its signature steeple will be getting a major makeover.

"It's always been a little bit of an eyesore for me. So now to have this chance, finally to restore it and to make it something beautiful. I'm thrilled about that possibility," said Rev Jeff Cowmeadow, Calvary's pastor.

The church was originally built in 1883 and the steeple was added in 1902.

"It's the tallest structure in the neighborhood," said Cowmeadow.

Over the last two decades, the congregation has been able to restore or remodel almost every inch inside the building, which is home to a pre-school and therapists offices among others.

But the steeple hasn't had a touch-up since it was built.

"It's the experts who have said that that steeple is something we need to get done now so that we're not kicking that can down to those future generations that we want to serve," said Cowmeadow.

To pay for the restoration, Calvary qualified for a $200,000 grant from the National Fund for Sacred Places, in part because of its architectural significance, since it was designed by well-known architects Warren Hayes and Harry Wild Jones and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

But the church wants to raise another $800,000 to clean up the rest of the exterior as well.

"We know that the exterior needs more than just the steeple. We want to protect the stained-glass. We want to do more tuck pointing. We want to light up the building better," said Cowmeadow.

If the church can raise enough money, work on the steeple would start next spring and last through the summer.

Calvary would continue to be a beacon of hope and beauty for the neighborhood for another century.

"I think it's been a part of thousands of people's lives and that's why we wanted to make sure that it's here for many, many, many more years to come," said Cowmeadow.