The 116-year-old Anglican church in St. Philip's is seen with its steeple in place (left) and toppled (right). Someone pulled down the steeple this morning. Left photo by Danette Dooley, right photo by Joe Gibbons/The Telegram
The steeple of the 116-year-old Anglican Church in St. Philip's is on the ground this morning, apparently pulled down deliberately shortly after 8 a.m.
It's the latest twist in an ongoing, emotional debate in the town just outside of St. John's over the fate of the historic building.
The town council on Tuesday night voted 6-1 to deny an application by the Anglican diocese to demolish the building. The church wants to use the property to expand its cemetery.
A community group, however, had lobbied to protect the church because of its historic value to the town.
Dozens of the town's people and Royal Newfoundland Constabulary officers have gathered at the site this morning.
What is apparent at the site is that the steeple's support posts were cut with some kind of construction tool, and a one-inch blue nylon rope - likely tied to a large vehicle - was used to topple the steeple off the historic structure.
A nearby resident said he saw three men outside the church this morning and heard "construction-type" noises. The resident said he could not identify the men nor did he actually see the steeple come down.
People at the scene were questioning why Rev. Edward Keeping, the parish rector, nor the grounds keeper, were present at the scene nor could be located. Many people had criticized what they termed Keeping's confrontational approach to the issue in the past few days.
An officer at the scene said no charges will be laid unless an official of the church files a complaint, which has not been done at this point, the officer said.
Further details later and full coverage in Thursday's print edition.
Also, see related story from Tuesday night's council meeting below.