In North Adams, 'iconic' church steeple on verge of toppling

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NORTH ADAMS — Following a partial collapse earlier this week, city and church officials fear the steeple atop the former St. Francis of Assisi Church is in danger of collapsing.

The steeple, a hallmark of the city's iconic skyline, will be at least partially demolished as quickly as possible, Mayor Richard Alcombright confirmed late Saturday night.

An emergency management team worked late Saturday night to evacuate a nearby residential building on Eagle Street and adjacent Village Pizza restaurant, Alcombright said.

The decision to at least partially demolish the steeple was made in consultation between city staff and engineers sent in by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield following the partial collapse of the steeple earlier this week, which left debris on North Church Street.

Crews will formulate a more detailed plan tomorrow, according to Alcombright, and more information will become publicly available. The situation could last several days, Alcombright said.

Until the area is deemed safe, North Church Street and Eagle Street will remain closed.

"The city's role right now is certainly just to bring in the emergency management team to really make certain people and property do not get damaged," Alcombright.

St. Francis was closed by the diocese in 2008.

"The diocese has been incredibly responsive. We told them Thursday [and] within a few hours they had people here to assess. They had people in the building in the steeple, and they met on Friday some and today some and here we are," Alcombright said.


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