Germany’s famous leaning church tower, now sliding dangerously close to collapse, could face partial demolition as early as next week if authorities fail to come up with a decision on Monday to acquire the deserted structure from a Christian federation.
The mayor of Bad Frankenhausen town, where Church of Our Dear Ladies on the Hill is situated, will seek a vote from 21 representatives Monday on purchasing the 730-year-old building for a single euro from the Evangelical Church in Central Germany (EKM) as the last resort, according to Spiegel.
“The vote could be difficult. But I hope for an easy majority for the acquisition,” news agency DPA quoted Mayor Matthias Strejc as saying.
Last week, the eastern state of Thuringia, where Bad Frankenhausen is located, rejected the town’s proposal to stabilize the 730-year-old church building, citing concerns over its long-term viability. It was the town’s latest of many plans submitted to the state.
There is no choice but partial demolition of the 184-foot, 2,600-metric ton tower beginning Dec. 7 at the earliest if Monday’s vote is defeated, EKM says.
The church has not been in use since 1962 and its tower is now tilting about 15 feet from the perpendicular. The tower has been leaning since 1640 but it became dramatic after a landslide in 1908. The land east of the tower is sinking and there’s an underground cavity to its northwest.
The cost of restoration, which includes adding three steel struts to support the lopsided tower, is estimated to be about $1.3 million. The EKM has offered to contribute the money it has earmarked for the possible demolition.
The town has raised part of the estimated cost in donations from residents and a foundation. “We need to implement the plan by 2014,” the mayor said. “That means we collect more money and apply for more support, for example from the federal government.”
The mayor is determined. “An end to the tower would mean one more loss of another attraction for our underdeveloped region,” he added.