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SLU chapel will be closed until spring

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CANTON — St. Lawrence University’s Gunnison Memorial Chapel likely will remain closed until spring as the college repairs the damage from the fire that destroyed the building’s spire Oct. 6.

The college is still assessing the damage, nearly two weeks after the fire. Most of the spire collapsed safely about 24 hours after the fire, but portions of the copper structure have yet to be removed.

A crane is expected to arrive early this week to remove what’s left of the steeple.

The college has hired specialists to take a look at water and smoke damage to the chapel’s organ and chimes, along with fire cleanup experts for a full assessment of what should happen next.

“We’re really going to wait and see, when the experts get here, what really needs to be done,” college spokesman Ryan P. Deuel said.

College officials said they hope the chapel will be usable by February or March, with repairs complete by the end of the spring semester. They hope much of the original damaged copper steeple, including the rooster weather vane, can be repaired or recycled. The chapel was built in 1926.

“I think that they really want to find a company that can take a look at the copper, see what can be restored, reused, and see what would have to be repaired,” Mr. Deuel said.

Assessors from Traveler’s Insurance have completed their look at the damage, but have yet to finalize their report. Insurance is expected to cover most of the bill, but the college won’t know how much it owes until the insurance report is complete.

A new roof for the chapel and a temporary cap for the steeple are among the top construction priorities.

Meanwhile, the university is looking for a location for its annual candlelight service in December.

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