September has arrived! How quickly the summer has passed. Six months ago, when the wind blew and the wall moved, we had great hopes that we would be at this very moment, watching the installation of a repaired Te Deum window. We all know the joke — if you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans. My sense is God is most likely laughing but with compassion and care as we see no window nor do we expect one until the snow begins to fly in December.
It seems to be a bit more difficult right now to feel upbeat about it all. I am a bit tired of the sounds of construction but I am also fully aware that those sounds mean things are happening and moving forward. This week staff had the experience of watching the masons stain our new exterior wall brick-by-brick to match the 104 year-old walls on either side. Two men up on a lift, with a small roller in one hand, patiently rolled stain on each and every brick until the wall was completed. And then, they moved inside and did the exact same thing to the new interior wall. Wow! Guess I won’t complain about painting the bathroom wall at home ever again. They did an amazing job and the exterior brick is about as close of a match as you can get to the original walls.
Pristine Glass was here this week to remove the Rose Window. Scaffolding was placed on the flat roof over the chapel, and the protective plexi-glass covering was removed. God was once again watching over us — the largest portion of the window had slipped out of the frame and was just hanging in the space. Nate (Pristine Glass) said he knew it was going to be a challenging job when they had to go and buy more duct tape. The wooden frame had deteriorated and was no longer holding the panels in place. Interestingly enough, the bead board wall behind the window is the wall for the organ pipe chamber. It probably would not have been a good thing if the window had fallen into the 13 inch space between the frame and the bead board wall.
All the panels of the window were removed and carefully strapped into his van. The window will go off to his shop where it will be flattened and crated for storage until we make decisions about how best to use the window. Nate took a few moments and explained the window to me — it is not stained glass in the manner of numerous colored pieces of glass inserted into leading to form a pattern like our other windows. This window is painted glass — each panel’s design is hand painted. There is evidence of some repair to the window — where plain glass was inserted as replacement for a painted section. Nate thinks it is worth fixing. Something to think about down the road as Nate indicated it could be made to fit the circular window space in the Merrifield Room.
In the meantime, the exterior hole left by the Rose window removal will be boarded up while we await the arrival of the new wall which will be a 3-D design of the trefoil found on the front of the church and also in the limestone caps on the pillars.
Nate will be back in a few weeks to caulk around the entire Robson Window before winter hits and also to remove the small stained glass window in the Northwest corner of the chancel area. He will take it back to his shop, repair the glass and have a new aluminum frame built for it as the current wood frame is pretty much gone due to weather deterioration.
The landscape work in the front and side of the church will begin in a few weeks. The irrigation system will be replaced/repaired as it was damaged by the heavy equipment sitting on the lawn for a few months. The drainage work will also begin soon in the Memorial Garden and most likely some new hand railing will have to go in as it seemed to have rusted through and broken off in numerous places (in my hand while hanging on to it.).
The construction company will begin removing the temporary wall in the sanctuary and utilize the insulation and materials to board up the Te Deum window space. Once the temporary wall is removed, we can begin installing the new lighting and start the refinishing of the floors. These two projects are not covered by insurance. Vestry decided that it seemed to make a lot of sense to do the floors and the lighting while the pews were up and the lifts were in the building. These two projects will total approximately $120,000.
What we are waiting for is the report from the structural engineer who last week X-rayed the Northeast wall behind the pulpit. A significant crack of some worry was found in this area and our engineering company brought in one of the few experts in the country to give it a closer look. It was much like an ultra-sound — the engineer was on a lift with a small portable machine that slowly scanned the wall row-by-row. He was looking for ‘voids’ — spaces in the wall where support should be present and was not. We’ll know more soon about this one.
We have come a long way in the past six months. Yes, we hoped we would be much farther along. And yes, it is a challenge to get excited about starting up another ‘church year’ in the Merrifield Room and not our beautiful sanctuary. But today, we give thanks that we have this space and we know at some point in the not too distant future we will be returning to that space. The same cannot be said for thousands of folks in the state of Texas. Today, we count our blessings and say our prayers and remember that many, many are homeless and will need our support for months and years to come.
Blessings to you and yours,
Interested in helping us fund the restoration project? Check out our GoFundMe page.