By Evan Bevins
The Marietta Times
A cracked stone atop the First Unitarian Universalist Church at the corner of Putnam and Third streets in Marietta led to a portion of the sidewalk and street being cordoned off Friday and church members searching for a solution.
The crack is in one of the four finial stones on the church's bell tower. Each stone is about six feet high and approximately three feet wide, according to an employee of Harrison Construction at the site Friday afternoon.
The crack is about four feet below the top of the stone. Dan Harrison, owner of Harrison Construction and a member of the church's building and grounds committee, estimated the portion above the crack weighs 120 to 125 pounds.
"It's scary as hell," he said of the prospect of the stone falling.
Harrison was worried that could happen Saturday, with thunderstorms forecast for the area.
"If there is, that thing's coming down," he said.
The crack was spotted by some of Harrison's employees doing work on an apartment across Third Street from the church.
The Marietta Fire Department used its tower truck to lift a firefighter and one of Harrison's employees about 90 feet off the ground to inspect the stone. Harrison suggested the best approach might be to go ahead and push the stone off. City safety-service director Jonathan Hupp later said the bucket on the truck was not designed to handle that kind of weight dropping into it.
Hupp said the timing was bad to close a lane of traffic on Putnam Street with the 2012 Ohio River Sternwheel Festival opening Friday, but there was no choice.
Harrison said the four finial stones are original to the church, which was constructed in 1855.
"They've never been changed. They've been preserved with water sealants," he said.
The stones were removed, checked and restored four years ago, Harrison said.
The church building is on the National Register of Historic Places.