Leaders of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church called on a mason to determine the feasibility of retrieving a very special box from the historic Doylestown Borough church’s cornerstone.
Mike Leibensperger, a stone mason with MFL Masonry Restoration Inc. in Perkasie, visited the church Jan. 12 to assess just how — and if — a stone can be removed without compromising the structure of the nearly 175-year-old building at the intersection of Pine Street and Oakland Avenue.
Leibensperger is “our last expert” to examine the ambitious project to see if the long-ago buried box filled with church records, can be removed, said Kay Rock, a St. Paul’s parishioner and member of the church’s 175th anniversary committee.
The stone mason noted a difference in tone when he tapped his hammer on the cornerstone, but could not say with certainty that it was a “hollow stone.”
David Nejako, chair of the church’s anniversary committee, and Leibensperger discussed the next step, which would involve removing a section of the “freestone,” a fine-grained sandstone or limestone, and inserting a supporting beam to further explore where the box may be.
Last month, concrete specialists used radar equipment to examine the cornerstone. They concluded, Rock said, with “100 percent certainty that the stone has a different footprint than the others.”
As the exploration continues, more church history is being learned.
Mike Campbell, president of the Bucks County Civil War Round Table, is cataloging boxes of memorabilia from Col. W.H.H. Davis (later Gen. Davis) of Civil War fame. In his research, Campbell found that Davis was a St. Paul’s vestryman for 40 years and he communicated often with the Rev. Gries, St. Paul’s rector from 1855-1861. When Gries died, Davis wrote his eulogy, Campbell discovered.
The fourth oldest church in the borough, St. Paul’s was designed by architect John E. Carver, according to church officials. Carver was also the chief architect of St. James the Less, a renowned Philadelphia church.