Termite tenting a harrowing task

Gloria Dei tenting
- Tom Vaught | Sun

HOLMES BEACH – The tent over the sweeping roofline of Gloria Dei Lutheran Church has been removed and so have the termites, hopefully. Earlier this month, Geiger’s Pest Service of St. Petersburg began the daunting task of covering one of the Island’s most unique buildings in terms of architecture.

Gary Geiger, the CEO of the pest control company, said the steeple’s 30-foot height made it a challenge.

“We also had an osprey nest on the very top of the steeple, which made the crew nervous about being attacked by the mother bird,” Geiger said. “The 86-foot boom lift just barely made it to the top of the steeple fully extended.” The ospreys were not harmed.

Gloria Dei media contact Jean Etsinger said the beams inside the church became so infested termite droppings had to be wiped away off the organ console and when people walked around the raised chancel area at the front of the sanctuary they would hear a crunching sound.

Because of Hurricane Irma, Geiger had a hard time finding a straight-bottom boom, or truck lift, to get workers up to the top of the roof but they finally secured one. The church was last tented about 20 years ago, according to an old-timer, who said they used a lot of tarp that time, as well.

The church building was designed half a century ago by “Sarasota School” architect Victor Lundy, who also designed St. Paul Lutheran Church in Sarasota. Both structures feature sweeping, load-bearing beams formed of laminated wood.

“It must have been expensive when the building went up, but it continues to be worth the investment because it was in good shape,” said Jay Poppe, a Gloria Dei property liaison.