(802) 839-6099 • 279 Websterville Road, Barre VT 05641 • jay@southgatesteeplejacks.com
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Our Perspective and Philosophy

Our approach to the building and restoration of steeples has been formed not only by our experience, but also by one very obvious fact. “Steeples are hard to reach and cannot be seen up close”. This fact leads to the following conclusion. “ It is wiser to spend time and money creating a product that will long endure without maintenance, than to spend time and money creating a product that looks nice from 10 feet away”.

We have developed a number of techniques that we believe produce a product that will last an exceptionally long time. These techniques are described in the “specific techniques” folder. These techniques are often time consuming. In some cases, such as the sanding of all wood to 60 grit, these techniques lead to a coarse up close appearance. Some techniques, such as the use of expansion joints, are time neutral. There are a few techniques that save time. For example, we fill our screw and nail holes with our standard urethane caulk, rather than sanded epoxy wood filler as is appropriate for work seen up close. This saves time but leaves the filled holes visible from 10 feet away. In general, working in such a way that we can concentrate on longevity rather than up-close appearance, allows us greater creativity with techniques for achieving longevity.
As we build and restore our steeples, our dialog revolves around the mantra of “100 years with no maintenance but for paint”. We use whatever method will yield the best results. Since we do all aspects of construction ourselves, we can control quality, cost, and timing.
Also, a large portion of any steeple restoration is simply the cost of getting access to the structure, whether through ropes, scaffolding, or removal. Therefore, it only makes sense to do a complete, high quality restoration, since the access costs remain the same. So, I often advise churches to do a complete restoration, and if this is not possible, to do a “quick’n’dirty cheap fix” to “buy them a few years”. It is the “partial” restorations that should be avoided.