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First Lutheran Church bell tower coming down in OTR

church bell tower.PNG
Posted at 4:50 PM, Nov 20, 2020

CINCINNATI — First Lutheran Church in Over-The-Rhine announced its historic bell tower will likely come down in December.

The 125-year-old church at 1208 Race St. received an abatement order from the city on Nov. 10 indicating that the tower "has suffered serious deterioration, is in danger of collapse, and presents an immediate threat and hazard to the public safety."

A THP structural engineers' report in September listed similar concerns about the condition of the bell tower, according to Pastor Brian Ferguson.

“Our intent was to all along do a full restoration of the historic building. Demolishing the bell tower was not in our plan until we received the news … of the dire circumstances, situation and the condition the bell tower was in," Ferguson said in a video presentation on the bell tower.

Ferguson said that one of the church's surrounding buildings at 1212 Race will also be demolished as part of the project, but the facade will be preserved.

Slated to start sometime in December, the project is estimated to cost roughly $240,000 based on a bid from Aztec Services Group.

The project would begin within seven to 10 days after the contract is signed, with an up to 60-day delay due to weather and/or COVID-19. First Lutheran will also seek approval from the city for a "roof cap" on the lower part of the structure after the tower comes down.

A congregation meeting is set for Nov. 25 to vote on the contract.

First Lutheran Church was founded in 1842, and its current structure across from Washington Park was erected in 1895.