Trustee Harrison Burns and financial secretary Dottie Adams of the Rumford Point Congregational Church are leading a fundraising campaign to repair the leaky, 90-foot church steeple. (Bruce Farrin/Rumford Falls Times)

The Rumford Point Congregational Church at Route 2 and 5 has a leaky steeple, which members are raising money to repair. (Submitted photo)

RUMFORD POINT — Parishioners will begin raising money soon to repair the leaky 90-foot steeple at the Rumford Point Congregational Church on Route 2.

The project is expected to cost between $90,000 and $100,000, with half of that from a matching grant from the Maine Community Foundation. 

Pastor Cindy Christie said the church has been a prominent part of the Rumford Point community since it was erected in 1864. She said the steeple project is for the church and the community.

“To have it in good repair, I think, is something the community would be proud of,” she said.

The church was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1985.

Financial secretary Dottie Adams said the white clapboard building is “one of a very small number of 19th century churches in Maine with original trompe l’oeil artwork on walls and ceilings, which give the appearance of an arched hallway behind the altar.”

That artwork uses realistic imagery to create the optical illusion that the depicted objects exist in three dimensions.

The artist may have been Jonathan Adams Bartlett, a folk artist living on the South Rumford side of the Androscoggin River, or Charles Schumacher of Portland and Boston, who did similar murals in a church in the Mayville region of Bethel, Adams said.

Adams and Trustee Harrison Burns are leading the fundraising effort.

Burns applied to the Maine Community Foundation last year and received $4,000 for an assessment of the steeple by Gartley Engineering & Dorsky Surveying of Camden. Afterward, the Foundation deemed it a worthy project and offered a matching grant.

Adams said they’re looking to raise between $45,000 and $50,000, which will be matched by the grant.

In a letter-writing campaign, the church is reaching out to past and present members, friends and families of the  church, as well as the community.

“With any luck, we will be able to get the community excited about helping to stabilize the steeple and get us back in good shape,” Christie said. “It’s not a huge congregation, so it takes a community.”

Adams said they’ve seen their Sunday service attendance dwindle to 15 to 20 in the winter and 25 to 30 in the summer.

Anyone wishing to make a tax-deductible donation may send a check to the Rumford Point Church Steeple Fund, P.O. Box 38, Hanover, ME 04237.