The Defenestration of Assonet

I had about a hundred working titles for this post:

Greek Reviled

All Roofers Must Be Meth Addicts

30 Steps and a Ladder

The Day I Discovered Skin De-fatting

2 Weeks in the Same Pants


But our week in Assonet, Mass began with the shedding of a church tower’s fenestration so The Defenestrations of Assonet seemed most appropriate. (Apologies in advance to any descendants of Praguian burgomasters who took the express elevator to the street in the early 15th-century).

It’s a beautiful New England church of its time, nestled in the tart bosom of cranberry country:




Inside, I half-expected Orson Welles to be delivering a sermon–



I mean, it’s a special place–


With original skyved clapboards on the north wall:


Pretty as it all was, the tower leaked badly.

It once held a bell tower which seemed to fall down like a barometer with each hurricane or nor’easter:


Several years ago, Michael and the crew took the tower off with a little less violence.

The church owns a splendid Revere Bell-


Which may yet one day peel above Assonet again-


Our task was to carefully remove the rails, posts and balusters on top of the flat roof. These had been added to the church in the hey-day of Greek Revival-ing, sometime in the 19th-century.


Here’s a post detail opened up, showing century-old plane shavings from its fitting:


Once the deck was clear, we’d build a new (temporary) deck on top of the existing rubber roof and pitch it towards the back of the church.

Away with ye, cursed water!

MLB finally had an excuse to rent a lift–


–while Keegan and I watched the trucks laden with cranberries roll by from our perch:


Supporting local business, we got our framing and decking material from Gurney’s Sawmill, of course. Though our deck is a temporary fix, it seemed right that materials should have come from just down the road.



Keegan used to lay rubber roof 20 years ago. He’s good at it–better than he thinks–but it’s not his vocation.


He searched his database late into the night (when he wasn’t changing diapers) to remember the particulars:

Let the rubber relax…where to caulk…how to manage drip edge… 

Been there, ked.

I mean, worrying about rubber roofing, yes.

Roofers have always struck me as a breed apart.

It takes a special kind of person to do it for very long, I would think.


The fashion is inseamly–


And the sweet witches brew of chemicals:



KIMG0357 (2)

De-fatting of the skin. DE-FATTING?!?

But it’s a good cause and it will stay any further attrition of an historic building in a charming town.

And the view from on high in October is sublime…


-excepting Prague in 1419, of course.

So we lost our access key on the final day.

Where there’s a sill there’s a way.


What’s that old Irish saying about always leaving church the same way you came in?

Until next time, United Church of Assonet.


Here’s to blessed pets and dry bell towers.






11 thoughts on “The Defenestration of Assonet

  1. LTB says:

    Does one relegate one’s bell peel to the compost or … ?

  2. snwoodwork says:

    This is great. As someone who lives in an area where all building about a half an hour old, it nice to see buildings with character.

  3. francedozois says:

    neato want to see this–

  4. John Wolf says:

    I was glad to see the safety harness! Were it me up there, that would make it easier to enjoy the view (not to mention let go with at least one hand so I could use a hammer). Beautiful building, beautiful view. It’s kind of scary the number of substances used in construction that cause saponification, which is to say turn flesh into soap. I’m going to guess that’s what “de-fatting of skin” is.

  5. jackbaumgartner says:

    It is good to see some roofers here, Rick. My dad was a flat-roofer his whole life. I’ve mopped my share of “hot” and swam in more than my share of that damn yellow shit laying miles of rubber. I’m so glad I’m a woodworker! But I’m gad for my history and honor my dad’s trade. Thanks always for such good stuff. Roofers are their own species.

  6. I hate flat rooves. Give me a good pitched roof anytime, preferably covered in thick, thick Yorkshire stone grey slates (OK slabs some may say). I sleep under grey slates, repel meteorites and stuff. Not to say that a bit of gloopy gundge doesn’t do a good job like though but.

  7. “-excepting Prague in 1419, of course.” I suppose i’m laughing far too hard at this caption … defenestration, being dispatched by a mob … doesn’t sound like much fun at all, but I did enjoy this post, so to speak …

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