Monday, September 15, 2008

Tower Tours?

The father of our former neighbor is a retired steeplejack. Steeplejacks are the most specialized of carpenters - they are the ones who climb skinny ladders and scaffolding to build and repair the tall steeples on old city churches. So when he'd come over to our neighbors house to do odd jobs and basic maintenance, it was easy sailing for him compared to his year's working alone at the top of a tall, narrow steeple. The views he had of our neighborhoods was something seen by few.

Thinking of those heights made me wonder if any of the churches around town offer tours of their bell towers? Some of them are so narrow they are only accessible by a ladder. However, others look big enough to have staircases to the top.

Climbing to the top of a church bell tower would afford wonderful views of the surrounding neighborhood and church grounds. If churches could arrange one or two days a month where they'd open the tower for guided tours, it would be a good way to promote the churches, the neighborhoods, and the architecture of the city.

A nominal fee benefitting the church could be charged, with volunteers from the church serving as docents for the tower visits. I'd pay $5-$10 to have a chance to visit these unique spaces. Call it urban exploring with an invitation. Anyone know if such tours are available? I'll call Our Lady of Sorrows on South Kingshighway later today to see if their Italinate tower (shown above) is ever open to the public. Check the comments later for an update...


Rick Bonasch said...

Just spoke with a person at OLS.

OLS is not available for tower tours due to difficult acccess and an unsafe platform for visitors.

Rick Bonasch said...


A friend and long time parishioner at OLS told me that in previous years, at the annual charity auction for the school, one of the auction items was to have lunch up in the tower with your favorite teacher. The item was sold to the highest bidder.

They discontinued the offer a year ago after they determined the platform had deteriorated due to exposure to the elements and so it was no longer safe.

My friend and I both agreed that being able to visit the tower as a fundraiser would be a cool experience.

Maybe it would make sense to repair the platform/access to allow such vists? Donated labor and materials are usually a staple for parish repair projects.

STL Rising will do some more follow up and report on the results.

And we'll check with another church or two regarding their tower tour policies.