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Damaged Steeple At Century-Old Avondale Church To Be Removed

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Streets and sidewalks near the Concordia Evangelical Lutheran Church in Avondale have been closed until crews can remove the church's wind-damaged steeple. (Credit: CBS)

Streets and sidewalks near the Concordia Evangelical Lutheran Church in Avondale have been closed until crews can remove the church’s wind-damaged steeple. (Credit: CBS)

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Updated 11/19/13 – 8:00 p.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) – A neighborhood landmark is coming down; the wind-damaged steeple atop the 121-year-old Concordia Evangelical Lutheran Church in Avondale has become loose, and must be removed.

CBS 2’s Mike Puccinelli reports the steeple proved no match for Sunday’s severe weather, which buffeted the four-story structure with repeated wind gusts. Local residents said the steeple could be seen swaying dangerously in the strong winds.

An inspection by city engineers showed the four-story steeple was held to the church structure below by only two steel beams. The others had been broken.

High winds ripped off shingle plating, and it was clear the steeple had been damaged, although it did not appear to be leaning or tilting after Sunday’s storms. However, the base of the church’s weathered green steeple is badly cracked.

As pretty as the steeple is, city engineers said it’s dangerous and must come down right away. The city has secured a court order to take it down.

That will cost the church approximately $100,000 – far more than stabilizing the structure, according to pastor Martin Doering.

“The estimates – and they’re rough estimates – would be about $20,000,” Doering said.

Despite the cost to the church, Doering said city engineers determined taking the steeple down was the best decision.

“That’s their decision,” he said.

Crews manning three enormous cranes are working through the night to remove the 120-year-old steeple.

The city went into court to have a receiver oversee and fund the removal work, since the congregation of 30 remaining families doesn’t have enough money.

Belmont Avenue has been closed to traffic between California and Rockwell. CTA buses also have been rerouted in the area.

The Concordia Evangelical Lutheran Church building was constructed in 1892, according to the church website.

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