It was a dream come true.
I was about to boldly go where very few people had gone before -up the interior of the steeple of Greenwich, Connecticut's Second Congregational Church.
Just before I was due to leave town and return to Hawaii Christopher Semmes, Church Caretaker Tony Izzi and I were to ascend to the top of the steeple. It had taken a long time to get to this point. Scheduling conflicts made for a complicated route to get us all together in late August. But as we like to say, "God will provide."
A pictorial story was featured about our journey in the Greenwich Time newspaper. It was published the day before my departure. It was not, however, featured in the online edition of the paper. So, for Greenwich residents and expats everywhere I have some wonderful news for you!
You have been invited by me -a church member and direct descendent of the founders in 1705- to come along for the climb! I've included many more pictures and comments than the published story in Greenwich Time.
So, without further delay, let's go!
|At long last! I had not been up inside the steeple in many years. Here I am in the cemetery next door with the steeple in the background.|
|At 217 feet tall, the steeple is the tallest structure in Greenwich. It was dedicated in 1858. I am a bit partial when I say that there are very few places elsewhere in which I feel so centered and connected than here.|
|This is an image I captured of the steeple in July 2008. I was standing on Island Beach, a small recreational island off the Greenwich coastline. I estimate that the distance is three miles. The steeple is used as a navigation landmark for passing ships going to or coming from New York City. It's been that way since 1858!|
|This nondescript door off the west balcony in the main sanctuary was our gateway to the ascent up the steeple.|
|This is the sound and light room for the main sanctuary. A second doorway would lead us to the initial steps of our ascent.|
|So, now you know where the Christmas decorations are stored.|
|One of the first things I did when we entered the steeple was look straight up. Here's what I saw. You can peer all the way to the level where the clock mechanism is housed.|
|This is a section of the original weathervane that once stood atop the steeple in 1858. The one you and I see today is a reproduction. It's quite big, by the way. In the space provided this was the best I could do for an comprehensive shot.|
|These were the first set of "stairs" we ascended to the next level. Tony said that the incline is at 70 degrees, not the usual 45 degree angle! It was more like climbing a set of ladders. Those steps or rungs are not very wide either.|
|Those stairs are narrow and steep, trust me. Tony laughed when I showed up wearing white pants given all the dust that was everywhere. Somehow I managed to keep myself clean. Ha ha ha!|
The light streaming though this lower level of the steeple evokes both the light of hope and creation. As I peered out this window this is what I saw:
|More steep stairs awaited us. Each portal to the next level was very narrow. I could barely fit my shoulders though them.|
|The next level was an interesting contrast to the one below. The subdued light in this space reminds us that true beauty is revealed when there is a light from within.|
|The stairs to the next level were the first to be off-center. It would be on this level where we would encounter the steeple's clock mechanism.|
|The amount of space for us to move had considerably narrowed and dwindled by this time. We could not peer into the clock mechanism itself since it was housed behind and underneath a wooden covering.|
|Yes, that is natural sunlight! We're almost there!|
|One last look down before I ascended the final stairs to the top.|
|Christopher Semmes went up just before me and after Tony Izzi reached the top. I was next.|
|When I emerged to the bell level I captured this image looking straight up into the pinnacle of the top of the steeple.|
|The February 14, 1919 of the Greenwich News & Graphic reported that "that Charles N. Mead had presented a bell for the new spire, in memory of six successive generations of deacons in his family, serving this church for nearly 200 years."|
|"It will be a victory and peace bell, bearing the inscription “Glory to God in the Highest, and on Earth Peace, Good Will Toward Men.” It will be cast at the Meneely Works in Troy, and probably will be installed by Easter Sunday."|
|Christopher Semmes was having the time of his life. Could you blame a photographer for feeling a bit joyful? Commanding views such as what we were treated to are rare.|
|This is a direct view from the steeple looking out towards the Village of Cos Cob, Riverside, Long Island Sound and Long Island, New York in the distance.|
|Pointing Heavenward, Greenwich's Second Congregational Church was designed by Leopold Eidlitz and dedicated in 1858. The steeple is 217 feet tall.|