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Historic church gets new roof

A historical Suffolk landmark is being restored after years of raising money and many more years of use.

Glebe Episcopal Church is replacing its roof for the first time in more than a century. Roof restoration committee member and former senior warden Philip Ford said the work should be finished in two to three weeks.

Wood was purchased from Portsmouth Lumber Corp. and Suffolk’s 84 Lumber and was painted with donations by PPG Protective & Marine Coatings. Stevens Roofing was hired for the restoration.

“We feel very honored and quite elated to save a church that’s been going on for many hundreds of years,” Ford said.

Glebe Church was originally built in 1738 and rebuilt in the 1850s. The cedar shake roof of the rebuilt church was overlain with concrete tiles in the 1930s.

The roof was being held together by wooden pegs and handmade nails more than a century old, and the foundation was rotting.

“We’ve taken the concrete tiles and cedar shakes off, and we’ve gone down to the rafters and replaced that with a waterproof membrane,” Ford said. “Then we’re putting on slate tiles from Buckingham in Virginia.”

The church received about $120,000 during the last six years through fundraising and donations to fund the renovations. Since the church was listed in the National Register of Historic Places, the renovations had to follow strict guidelines and be approved by the Suffolk Historic Landmarks Commission.

“We presented our case, and it was unanimously accepted,” Ford said.

He said it would take an estimated two weeks to put the new slate on the roof and finish the woodwork. This is expected to greatly improve the lifespan of the landmark.

“The slate is normally good for a hundred years,” he said. “We’re very honored in that we’ve managed to probably put another hundred years on the church.”