New beam marks major milestone in church construction project

NEW MILFORD - The sound of cheers and applause resonated last week outside First Congregational Church as a crowd of church leaders and members gathered to watch a major construction project - the installation of a new structural beam.

"It feels like a miracle," said Doris Papp, a member of the church's communication committee. "I feel like God is smiling on this church."

It was a historic day for the more than 300-year-old church and its members, who raised over $625,000 for the project, which includes repairing the failing ceiling beam, restoring the building's structural integrity and removing the temporary steel supports inside the historic meetinghouse.

Of that total, a $100,000 grant was received from the State Historic Preservation Office.

A large crane and construction crews from Lambert and Barr LLC and Erection & Welding Contractors LLC were on the ground and the partially opened roof, where workers coordinated the removal and installation of the beams.

An original truss made of antique chestnut was removed, having been cut in four separate pieces, by a crane that hoisted each piece over the church's back parking lot.