Church relics to be featured in TV reality show
By PAT FRIDGEN, Echo Pilot
Blue Mountain Group, which purchased the vacant church on East Baltimore Street, needed to clear out old stuff before renovating the 1928 brick structure into a professional building. Blue Mountain partner Chris Zentz hired Haines Construction from Newburg to tackle the project. But what to do with the ornate doors, windows, and wood pieces?
"Bill Haines thought the woodwork was absolutely gorgeous," said Zentz.
"We didn't know what to do with this beautiful stuff."
Haines called a few places that weren't interested in taking the heavy material. Then he talked to his parents. JoAnn and Bill Haines were fans of flea markets and antiques.
JoAnn suggested calling Black Dog Salvage in Roanoke, Va. The owners, Mike Whiteside and Robert Kulp, were stars of a reality TV show. "Salvage Dawgs" featured their team visiting unique places on the eastern seaboard, to save old furnishings before buildings were torn down.
"We had to think outside the box," Zentz agreed.
Haines first spoke to Grayson Goldsmith, a member of the cast. The architectural finds sounded just like what they wanted, so Whiteside visited Greencastle a few weeks ago. He asked if the bell was also for sale, and said yes to the project after both sides agreed to terms.
Tuesday and Wednesday, March 22 and 23, Whiteside, his son Tay Whiteside, Kulp, Grayson and Ted Ayers, plus a crew from Trailblazers Production Co., Raleigh, N. C., were in town to remove from the church the architectural features they found most re-usable.
Zentz was pleased with the outcome. "We're happy to get rid of this, and save it."
The networking continued, so all the pieces were in place for the salvage operation. Haines reached out to friend Matt Knoll, who put him in touch with Stephenson Equipment in Harrisburg, the local Manitowoc dealer. That company referred them to Agar, Walnut Bottom, for the crane rental.
Todd Herrman from Stephenson was present Wednesday to watch the crane in action. The operator had to lower the cable "blind", using a screen to dictate his controls.
"They're pretty good," he said of the highly-trained drivers. He was confident the raising of the 2,700-pound bell would go off without a hitch.
Then there was the matter of the bell's fate.
"The bell is the key piece here," Whiteside said. "It is 54-inch cast iron, which I understand is pretty big for a church. I don't want it. These things are easy to get and hard to sell."
He had called a bell dealer in Brooklyn, Mich. Marc Brosamer arrived at the appointed time Wednesday morning, a trailer in tow.
The film crew was on site by 8 a.m., shortly before the Black Dog Salvage trucks made their way down Baltimore Street from I-81. They turned left onto Church Lane, then another sharp left onto Spruce Lane, to enter the church parking lot. The cameras and microphones were inches from their faces when the stars exited their vehicles.
"The truck wasn't meant to go through that alley," Whiteside said as he stepped out.
The cast and crew worked their routine, recording footage for the television show. Between shots, the familiar characters chatted with the small crowd watching the event.
JoAnn and Bill Haines took the day off work because they were "big time fans" and had even shopped at the Roanoke store. Their daughter-in-law Susan Haines brought her girls, Alonna and Kara, who missed school for the opportunity to see the creation of a television show.
Goldsmith has been with the salvage gang for three years.
"I have a background in sustainability," she said. "I care about what we are saving and the stories behind them."
Whiteside found Greencastle "cute. It is easy to get to off the highway."
The company had originally planned to next tackle a site in Frostburg, Md., but it fell through. They were heading back home after the bell was safely where it belonged. Brosamer had found what he wanted and would take it on the spot.
The bell's new home would be his own front yard. He had worked with his dad, who died in August after 30 years in the business.
"This is the first bell I will own," he said. "It is the biggest cast iron bell ever made."
His company, Brosamer's Bells, Inc., was the world's largest dealer of antique, historic and used bells, he said. In another situation, he could have sold it to any number of customers.
Haines appreciated the turn of events, as Blue Mountain had thought the bell would continue to hang silent in the tower.
"It turns out to be the centerpiece of the day. It's an awesome piece."
Salvage Dawgs began airing in 2012, and six seasons have been filmed. It airs on Sunday nights on DIY. Greencastle's episode will be the first in season 7.
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