St. Luke’s gets $250K for repairs

Published 7:14 pm Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Historic St. Luke’s Church in Smithfield has received a gift of $250,000 from The Smithfield Foods — Luter Foundation to match the Federal Save America’s Treasures grant awarded to the church.

The Save America’s Treasures competitive awards preserve the nation’s most significant endangered intellectual and cultural artifacts, historic structures and historic sites.

Executive Director Charlotte Klamer said she was delighted to receive the gift from The Smithfield Foods – Luter Foundation and that the gift and the match will allow the church to begin an extensive repair process sooner than had been expected.

“The Luter family and Smithfield Foods have been friends of St. Luke’s for generations,” Klamer said, “we’re honored that they thought of us again with this generous gift.” The Save America’s Treasures grant with the match will meet approximately half of the anticipated cost of the repair of the church.

The extent of the repairs that are necessary has increased significantly since the SAT grant was awarded in December 2006. There are now about 20 erosion points that need to be dealt with in the historic cemetery, bringing the expected cost of the project to $1.2 million.

The renovation of the church building will include re-pointing and replacing cracks in the mortar and bricks; replacing exterior woodwork; repairing the roof and interior plaster; removing exterior mold and lichen; installing French drains; upgrading electrical wiring; and caulking, painting, priming and restoring the historic fabric of the building’s exterior.

Hurricanes, nor’easters and flooding have resulted in the need to replace and install drop inlets, to replace pavement and swales, to remove and replace the drainage systems, to repair and stabilize slopes, to add stone and rip rap and to dredge one of the ponds in the old cemetery.

The last significant repair on Historic St. Luke’s Church took place in the 1950s, following a nationwide fundraising effort, which included support from the Luter family and Smithfield Packing.