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We Did It!

A major SPC restoration project was completed in early 2002 and the church celebrated with balloons, champagne, and acknowledgement of the many people who made it happen, including the architects, the engineers, 32 other professional firms, and more than 100+ workmen on site. Not to mention all the church members who generously donated to fund the project. Amazingly enough, the church remained open throughout the year-long process. Listed below is what we accomplished, along with some of the challenges we faced.


Restoration add, small church LF IMG_0973What We Accomplished

Foundation: Replacement or reinforcement of the crumbling foundation in the main structure

Seismic bracing: Wood-clad steel gables on three sides of the sanctuary, with anchoring to the new foundation, and shear walls in the lower level. The structural engineer and carpenters did such a beautiful job, you’d hardly know anything was done. (Just after we completed the project, we experienced our first earthquake within a church service, and the solid structure got a standing ovation!)

ADA access: A new ramp and raised terrace to provide access to the sanctuary. Built-in bench seating on the terrace, new landscaping, and exterior outlets so the congregation can now have coffee there on lovely days.

ADA bathroom: A spacious bathroom that is ADA accessible, more practical for brides, and terrific for the rest of us.

New stairs: Safer, colored concrete stairs to the patio, with steel rails on both sides (replacing open wooden stairs)

Handicap parking: One handicap space off Excelsior Lane with lighted ramp to new Thomson Hall entrance.

Fire safety: Concealed sprinkler system throughout the building and a new fire alarm system.

Electrical work: Rewiring of the main chandelier, replacement of its sockets, and new fluorescent bulbs in
Thomson Hall. In addition, a new underground service was installed with many dedicated circuits so fuses will no longer blow!

New floor: A beautiful Australian hardwood floor in Thomson Hall.

Pews: New pew cushions and accommodation for wheelchair seating in the sanctuary.

Manse and garage: In separate projects, complete refurbishment of the manse after a fire, and a new roof and shingles for the garage.

Restoration scan
Restoration job

Some of the Challenges

The brides: Despite lack of stairway, bathroom, and heating, amazingly, weddings continued full tilt until scaffolding went up in the sanctuary. With special scheduling and a few last-minute runs by the Site Manager Mauro, no bride actually had to walk through wet concrete to get to the altar. More than
80 weddings took place, with couples from 11 countries!

A simple kitchen door: When doing the concrete stairs, code required more space after the last step before you could encounter the kitchen door. So we moved the door and then found it didn’t clear the swinging door inside without further modification! And then the floor heating register was now just at the new threshold so that had to be removed as well.

Alignment: When cladding the big steel gables in the sanctuary with wood, the carpenters found that the church roof lines were all interestingly bowed, so each board had to be measured, marked, and cut MANY times until each board fit snug with the existing roof boards.

For those who like statistics: We had 100+ workmen on site; 34 professional firms; more than 60 committee meetings, half of them on-site at 7 am; about 500 pages of meeting minutes, memos, and contracts; at least 180 hours of discussions; 839 phone calls; 95 invoices; and many gallons of
Starbuck’s coffee consumed.