Maine Steeples Fund FAQ

What is the definition of a steeple for the purposes of this grant fund?

In addition to the typical church steeple (tall tower on a building, topped by a spire and often incorporating a belfry and other components), the Steeples Fund will also consider grant requests to repair square box tower-style steeples. In addition, the actual work that may be funded includes both the upper and lower reaches of the steeple. For example, grant funds may be used to restore the foundation beneath the steeple. Grant funds may not be used to repair parts of the building which are not directly tied to the steeple restoration, such as the sanctuary.

We are not an operating church, but are using a former church building. Can we still apply?

Yes, as long as you are a nonprofit entity or municipality and you meet other eligibility requirements. This fund can’t be used for private sector renovations.

Does this grant program cover costs related to the church structure other than the steeple?

During the assessment stage of this grant program, an assessment of the steeple should also include information about its supporting structure since the structural capacity of the overall building is integral to the steeple condition and its repair. We expect the assessment would thoroughly review the steeple, but the assessment grant can also cover other structural elements.

For the restoration stage of the process, funding is available only for work on the steeple and its supporting elements. For example, the assessment might suggest that work is needed on the foundation. This grant program would fund the foundation work under the steeple, but not under the sanctuary. We understand that you may be working on several projects at the same time, but the Maine Steeples Fund grant would only cover work related to the steeple.

Our steeple has been removed. Does this grant program apply to us?

If you plan to either reuse the original steeple or reconstruct a steeple that meets historic preservation guidelines, you can still apply for an assessment grant that would address structural issues of the steeple (if able to be reused) or plans for its reconstruction of the base where the steeple would be remounted.

Since the program's priority is to support restoration rather than reconstruction efforts, your proposal may be ranked lower if it is a reconstruction project, particularly if there may have been alternatives to the removal of the steeple or if substantial portions of the historic materials were damaged in its removal. If you plan a reconstruction project, our preference is that it reestablishes the internal and external structural integrity of the building. Applicants are encouraged to consider efforts to stabilize the steeple rather than remove it. An assessment can help determine a stabilization plan that can be implemented as you move through the process toward a restoration grant.

We have a local carpenter on our building committee who has reviewed the steeple and suggested work to be done. Can we skip to the restoration grant?

No. All applicants need to start with a site visit and professional assessment. We also recommend that your local carpenter review our assessment requirements and sample assessment to determine whether this is a type of assessment that he/she feels able to complete. It may also be possible for your local carpenter to work in collaboration with an experienced assessor or steeplejack. Please contact Maine Preservation for referrals as necessary.

For the match, do we need to raise new money or can we use existing funds?

Existing funds are fine.

Our steeple is a small part of our church. Will it still qualify?
Yes. However, if you have any questions, you can send a digital picture of your church and we can share a response on a case-by-case basis.