Gloria Dei’s termite troubles terminated with fumigation

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Workers from Geiger’s Pest Services of St. Petersburg cover the Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, 6608 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach, with a fumigation tent Oct. 30. Islander Photo: Courtesy Gloria Dei

The church has striking architecture, but for a couple of days last week, it looked really interesting.

Drivers on Palm and Marina drives in Holmes Beach were doing double takes as the landmark Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, 6608 Marina Drive, became enveloped in a red-and-blue striped tent.

Geiger’s Pest Control of St. Petersburg wrapped the structure for termite fumigation.

Though the company had wrapped other large structures, this one was particularly challenging due to the design of the 50-plus-year-old church.

“What made this particular job unique was the design of the steeple,” company CEO Gary Geiger said.

“The steeple’s height — 30 feet — and where it’s located 50 feet to the center of the building is what made it very challenging,” Geiger said.

Throw in the large osprey nest that was a fixture on the steeple base for years and you have a nervous crew — worried about a bird attack.

“The 86-foot boom lift just barely made it to the top of the steeple fully extended,” Geiger said.

Gloria Dei was designed a half-century ago by Sarasota School architectural icon Victor Lundy. The church features sweeping, load-bearing beams formed of laminated wood, which had attracted termites.

Work began Oct. 30 and the tenting was removed on Nov.1. Church personnel were able to resume work Nov. 2.

A side concern of the operation was whether the osprey nest atop the steeple base had compromised the roofing. Church members recently sent up a drone with a camera for a close-up look at the nest area.

By using the boom lift to examine the steeple top, it was discovered to be in good condition, having been covered in copper-welded sheets and not asphalt shingles as believed.

Jay Poppe, a Gloria Dei property liaison, said, “It must have been expensive when the building went up, but it continues to be worth the investment because it was in good shape. All they had to do was clean up the top and replace a drip molding that had come off.”

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