Allan Avis Architects Inc | Ste. Anne’s Church, Tecumseh

Ste. Anne’s Church, Tecumseh

Tecumseh, Ontario

Ste. Anne Church, Tecumseh, is steeped in history and is the second largest parish in the Diocese of London. The church, constructed in 1888, added the spire in 1891. A 2007 building assessment deemed the wood‑framed spire unsafe and it was removed from the bell tower, along with the four swing bells. The spire was lowered by crane and placed in the front yard. The community remained optimistic that the spire and bells would one day return to its rightful place. A reinforced concrete slab, proven effective in reducing fire damage, was carefully coordinated to later receive anchors for reinstallation of the bells. The four original bells were reinstalled in 2011 and left exposed to the elements. In 2017, the massive, 60′ tall spire was repaired and restored, at grade level. Details were meticulously recreated and clad in lead-coated copper, taking skilled restoration specialists over 7,300 hrs. Continuous steel channels reinforced the original timber beam at the perimeter of the spire and new wood members were added to supplement the spire framing, to tolerate the upcoming crane lift. Precision was key when resetting the spire onto the belfry roof, some 85’ above street level. Workers maneuvered around the bells, with little room to work and no room for error. The extended crane boom arched 15′ under the load of the 28,000 lb. spire. A building preservation program began in 2008 with a Building Condition Assessment. This report provided a prioritized implementation plan for the ongoing restoration and repairs, completed over the past 9 years. The restored spire was installed 21-Nov-2017, just over 10 yrs. from the day of its removal. In 2010, Restoration Phase 2 work began. This work formed the basis for the 2017 Renovations project. Originally, the 2017 Renovations project did not include the restoration and installation of the spire. However, once the wall renovation was underway, enthusiasm for the project grew, as did the financial support of the community. The Parish was able to add the spire work and with a seasoned restoration contractor, already on site, it made good economic sense. The Parish was ecstatic about the spire going back up, after ten years sitting in the front yard. Replacement of the spire was overwhelming for hundreds of onlookers. The emotional connection to this iconic structure is awe inspiring. The spire restoration is a testament to the Parish=s faith and stewardship. Their tenacity and commitment were unwavering; it is humbling to watch how infectious this kind of endeavour can be. The Parish devotion and community support was a labour of love that will inspire other Parish families.