It has been another busy week here on the loudest, messiest (and, in my opinion, most exciting!) corner of downtown Cleveland. Here's where all the noise (and mess--and progress) is coming from:
It's another busy week at First Cumberland, One crew is busy cleaning and repairing the stone on the existing building, while another works hard to prepare the site for the foundation. Lots of scaffolding, lots of big machines, lots of noise, lots of dirt, and lots of water.
Last week, we invited both crews to share pizza and freshly-baked cookies with a bunch of kids from church. We made some new friends, thanked the crews for their hard work, and prayed that God would keep them safe--then we went out to play on the playground while our new friends went across the fence to do their work.
Now that the Reese Building is down, the temporary barrier wall along Church Street is down, too. Next? It's time to move some dirt! Site work for the new entry (where the Reese Building used to be) and the new Fellowship Hall (where a bunch of parking spaces used to be) is in full swing. Once the dirt is where it should be (and not where it shouldn't be), it'll be time to lay block and pour foundations.
It's a great time to be a kid at our church: the view of construction from the playground is excellent!
After weeks of preparation, it took less than 3 hours to pull the Reese Building down.
It's been a busy week of good-byes at the Reese Building.
Good-bye insulation, asbestos, HVAC units, windows, doors, utility connections, trim, roof shingles, gutters, and anything else that could be pulled out of the building.
The Reese Building has been part of our church for 87 years. It has housed the church offices, LOGOS classes, the choir, Sunday School classes, the Sunday School office, and our Cumberlands Care ministry. It's been a storage place for all of the church's paraments and candles, craft supplies, picture albums, and one really old punch bowl. Brides have dressed there, and hard conversations have taken place there, and we've made new friends there, too.
We will miss that almost-too-heavy-to-open front door and the way the sunlight made the hardwood floors shine. We'll miss the soft yellows of the stained glass windows and the way plaster sometimes fell off the wall and made it look like it had snowed in the craft closet (!!). I don't think we'll miss the nearly-impossible task of keeping the building warm enough in the winter or cool enough in the summer...
Taking down Reese allows us to have something we haven't had in a long time (or ever?): a street-level entrance (no stairs at all!) to the church. And while we'll miss Reese, it sure will be nice to welcome people to our church without worrying about all those stairs.
Demolition is scheduled to begin Monday, September 30.
A wise man once noted that there is “a time to break down, and a time to build up…” (Ecclesiastes 3:3b). How true that is!
Before we can build up our new building, we have to do some breaking down.
Like building up, the work of breaking down doesn’t happen all at once: it happens in stages.
This week, we’ve been busy with the not-so-obvious phase of demolition: disconnecting utilities, closing off the spaces (ductwork, attic doors, etc) that connected the Reese Building with the rest of the church, and clearing out the stuff we can (like insulation and the HVAC unit) before demolition begins.
All of this messy, noisy work sets the stage for a whole lot more messy noisy work to come: and that's progress.
(pictured above: a big, powerful vacuum sucking the insulation out of the attic)
This week, we filled our first dump truck full of dirt. Who knew that would be so exciting?!
The utility trench is complete. Pipes and conduit are being laid as I type. The new water main (to replace the circa 1930's one that has served the church all these years) is in the building, waiting to be attached.
And boy, is it hot out there. Prayers for you, jack-hammerers and diggers and haulers and pipe-layers, as you do this good work out in that oppressive heat.
The fence is up.
The light poles are down.
This is progress.
If you've ever visited our church, you've probably noticed that we are blessed with an abundance of stair steps. For a single story building (with a basement and an attic), we've managed to squeeze in a truly impressive number of stairs. We have four full sets of stairs leading to the basement, plus smaller sets connecting the oldest building (Reese, circa 1932) with the newer one (the Sanctuary, circa 1956). We even have steps inside two of our closets: how many churches can say that?!
If you add up all the steps leading to the church building or nested inside of it, you come up with a grand total of 180. That may not sound like much, but that's enough steps to build a 14 story building--and way too many steps for a one-story one!
For years (well, "decades" is more like it!), we've realized that those steps are a barrier to ministry. It's hard to be together, or to be truly welcoming, when so many steps stand between you and the Fellowship Hall (in the basement) or Sunday School classes (also in the basement). We've planned and plotted and prayed; and now, at long last, we are ready to build a building that will take down lots of those barriers: a Fellowship Hall, kitchen, and classrooms, all on street level, plus a street-level entrance to the church itself.
May God guide our steps as we work to eliminate some...