Nfld. & Labrador

Old church in Twillingate in rough shape, needs repair work

A building that has stood in Twillingate for nearly 150 years is in big trouble, as the caretakers have had no luck getting repair work done to the site.
The North East Church in Twillingate, first built in 1868, sustained serious roof damage in last year's winter storms. The roof has been leaking water since, and the heritage group is looking to get repairs done. (CBC)

A building that has stood in Twillingate for nearly 150 years is in big trouble, as the caretakers have had no luck getting repair work done to the site.

The pine planks of the North East Church were first laid in 1868, but are now sporting peeling paint, but that's the least of the worries.

Howard Butt, one of the volunteer caretakers of the church, said the big concerns aren't so obvious, unless it's raining.
Kay Boyd, left, and Howard Butt say they're worried with winter approaching, the damage to North East Church in Twillingate may be irreparable if problems aren't fixed now. (CBC)

"We have a leaky roof, and a real bad leak. Not leaks, leaks," he said.

Butt, with the North East Church Heritage Association, said the leaks were discovered earlier this year, adding that severe storms last winter were likely the cause.

"Especially with the westerly winds, we have the rain come in … it comes down through, and it's going to ruin the place because it's going to cause structural damage."

Protecting a 1903 Bevington pipe organ is one of their foremost concerns. Fully restored in 2006, it's just one of a handful of these instruments left in existence.

No one to do repairs

To keep the pipe organ and the rest of the church intact, the group put out a tender for repairs earlier this month but Kay Boyd said no one answered the call.

"We were looking for roofers to come in and at least be able to get the leak, and so far that hasn't happened," she said.
A 1903 Bevington pipe organ in Twillingate's North East Church is one of only a handful in the world, and a heritage group worries it may be damaged if the roof of the church isn't repaired. (CBC)

"Now, we have been raising money in the community, but there are so many people within the community that are raising money, that the community can only sustain so much."

The group estimates roof repairs would cost at least $25,000 — money it doesn't have.

According to Butt, the church doesn't qualify for provincial heritage grants because of updates, including new window panes, but that doesn't mean there's no value in the building.

Butt said he's worried if the repairs aren't made, the building won't be able to last much longer.

"I think the problem is, is that we won't have to tear it down, it's going to fall down if the problems are not corrected," he said.

While the group said it's not giving up it's search for more funding, more threats of storm damage to this piece of outport history loom as winter approaches.

With files from Lindsay Bird


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