HAMPSTEAD — Joseph Kurosz, treasurer of East Hampstead Union Church, said it will be nice to have the church "whole again."

The steeple and bell tower at the East Main Street church were removed nearly six years ago because of severe water damage. A new steeple will be raised tomorrow.

The Rev. Paul Sweet, the pastor for more than a decade, said the 38-foot steeple will complete the church.

"It felt to some parishioners like there was just something missing," he said.

The 6,000-pound steeple was delivered by dump truck yesterday morning, traveling more than 140 miles from Barre, Vt., while strapped to the back of a 10-foot trailer.

The 65-member congregation helped raise more than $50,000 to pay for the new steeple through donations and fundraisers, according to a church member. The steeple, removed in 2004, was part of the original building constructed in 1897.

Kurosz was driving through Exeter in 2005 when he saw Jay Southgate's team replacing the 42-foot steeple atop Exeter Congregational Church.

Soon after, Southgate Steeplejacks of Barre was hired to replace the steeple at East Hampstead Union Church. The steeple had rotted, so Southgate had to build a new one based on a photograph provided to him by the church.

"I tried to get it as close as I could," Southgate said.

The new steeple closely resembles the original, but with a few modifications.

The steeple has a copper roof to protect it from water. Southgate said he used cypress instead of traditional pine to fortify the structure.

Southgate's team will spend the next two days replacing old support beams. A crane is scheduled to come tomorrow to lift the steeple atop the church.

The 2,000-pound bell will be raised to the tower.

Sweet said completion of the project will help reaffirm the church's presence in town and continue its legacy.

"We're very, very cognizant of the past and having a past for the future," Sweet said.

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