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a building with a tall spire

Case Study

Davis, NC, Freewill Baptist Church


The 140-year-old Davis Free Will Baptist Church in coastal Davis, NC, was sinking into the soft, wet soils of this low-lying community on the Core Sound just a ferry ride away from the Cape Lookout National Seashore.

Originally built of wood, brick, and block in 1879, the million-pound structure has flooded multiple times amid the increasing frequency of hurricane-force wind, rain and storm surges.

Progressive Construction, a Cantsink-certified installer, was hired to elevate the sanctuary and its adjacent community and Sunday School facility to a safer and more stable elevation that will withstand extreme weather.

This job was rendered even more challenging by the weight of the heavy building shell.

Scope of Work

Progressive loaded the massive structure - its largest elevation job to date - onto steel beams to elevate it more than three feet.

Then, the crew excavated below at strategic points for some 300,000 pounds of footings to sit atop the helical piers that will stabilize it permanently.

Work was challenging in rainy conditions during the elevation.

The water table lay just four inches below the ground, and the crew pumped more than four million gallons of water from underneath the church to facilitate their work.

Anchor System

Plans called for Progressive to install 30 underpinning assemblies, utilizing Cantsink helical piers below the new footings of the church.

For the job, square shaft piers with a 10/12/14-inch triple helix were specified.


Preservation of the church has become an important community event.

The historic presence of the church provides a key landmark for area residents, who were concerned about the threat to the building's stability.

Excitement about this project, which will keep it secure for succeeding generations, prompted front-page stories in the local newspaper.

Extreme weather and its related effects increasingly threaten waterside communities like Davis, making foundation stability and secure elevation like the Progressive project at the Free Will Baptist Church more critical than ever. Storm and tidal surges, high winds, and soaking rains intensify natural climate conditions in water-adjacent localities, requiring sound foundation elements resistant to the effects of saturated conditions.

Cantsink helical piers offer a secure, cost-effective solution to storm-related threats for both new and existing structures, even for challenging historic structures like the Davis Free Will Baptist Church.

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