Historic Salem church faces $90,000 bill to patch leaks in 160-year-old walls

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SALEM, N.Y. (NEWS10) – St. Paul’s Episcopal Church has a $90,000 problem on its hands, and in its walls.

The plaster on the church’s inner walls started bubbling up and tearing apart with water damage well over a decade ago, all around the parts of the church that had stone outside around the brick face of the rest of the building. In 2010, they repaired damage to the church roof, thinking the leaks were coming from on high.

By the time two years had passed, the leak was back, and the plaster ruined. And it has been ever since.

Now, the church is told the problem is leaks in the stone outer walls themselves, with water getting trapped between layers of stone and brick. The process to get that fixed will involve two phases. The first is reworking on the stone outside, and the second is completely tearing down the plaster inside. That plaster will be replaced with a vapor shield and a new, non-plaster form of wall.

Funding may seem daunting for a small town, but the church is already applying for grant funds from the New York State Landmarks Conservancy. The church itself isn’t a recognized historic site, but it is part of the town of Salem’s historic downtown district.

The rest will have to come from donations. Rev. Kriss said he received around $1,500 on Tuesday, and will be setting up a website where interested donors can go to chip in.

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