On nearly any other day of the year, the sight of the old Harbor Church in Townsend sitting against a backdrop of Harbor Pond is one of antiquated tranquility.
On July 30, however, the normal peacefulness surrounding the historic building was replaced with the sounds of hammers, power tools and blaring radio music pouring out from the basement.
Around the back door, piles of rotten wood quickly rose into mountains as a construction crew tore away at the original subfloor, no longer considered safe enough to withstand the weight of a gathering up above.
In order to complete the project, the rotten wood and original marble support columns are being replaced by much sturdier materials.
"Right now we're pouring new concrete pads and putting in new lally columns, which are steel posts," said Dean Carter, the job supervisor of the four-man construction crew. "It sags so it really needs some structural support."
The much-needed refurbishment is being funded through the Townsend Historical Society, which owns the church as well as several other historic properties in town, according to the society's site administrator, Jeannie Bartovics.
It became apparent that the renovation was necessary just before the society brought in an inspector to check on the status of the building.
"It was like a message from above. Literally a week from the inspection, the floor joists weakened and separated from their holders and caused the floor to be a
Rauhala attributed the problem to the combination of moisture seeping into the wood, as well as the long lifespan of the church, which was built in 1853.
Although this particular project has only been going on since the first week of July, it is by no means the first time the church has undergone such necessary repairs.
"The building has shown its age in some fashions over the years; we had to put a new roof on it and now it's time to replace the old beams and the floor substructure," Rauhala said.
Rauhala said he believes the project is on track to be finished by the beginning of August.
"We're getting close to completion. We're going to have a wedding there for the end of August. It will be the first event with the new solid floor."
The crew was called just in time, Carter said.
"There's no way that floor would have supported a wedding party (as it was)," he said.
Although the repairs are crucial, they are not without costs: Rauhala estimates that by the time of its completion, the entire project will cost about $29,500.
"There will certainly be the need for fundraising in the future (to replenish the amount)," he said.
And the costs won't stop there: There are still several projects to be completed around the building.
"Our next project is the roof leak in the back; alternately when you look to the sky, our steeple has some structural things that need to be done," he said. "This is the first process of actually making the first floor secure. That way, we're able to secure the integrity of the whole structure."
Still, the state of the building is pretty impressive considering the fact that the original structural materials had lasted up until the roof was replaced in 2007.
"The original builders gave their money's worth to whoever owned it after that. It lasted a long time," said Rauhala.
In fact, the materials lasted far longer than the church's original purpose. Rauhala said that the building only served as a church for a few years.
"It was very short-lived as a church. I don't think it even made it out of the 1850s," he said.
It has since been reincarnated as a meeting place that is used for anything from celebrations and Historical Society exhibits to the reading of Town Meeting warrants. It is the society's intention that the building continue to serve these purposes, hence the effort to restore the property.
"(The renovation) is a way, in essence, of ensuring the church goes on for another 150 years," Rauhala said.