Playhouse and Music Theatre

2010

Work on the pulpit is complete. It is magnificent and is definitely the signature item that puts the exclamation point on this restoration! Everyone must see this to appreciate it. In the meantime you can look at the photos on our web site at http://oldeliaschurch.com. Frank Stoik, who was the contractor on the pulpit, is an expert on historical construction. He and his crew are to be commended for their outstanding work and for the care and historical sensitivity that they exhibited during this project. We were extremely fortunate that Frank agreed to rebuild the pulpit. We do not have any photos of the Elias Church pulpit but we do have written descriptions of it. We used these written descriptions plus examinations of existing pulpits that are still in existence at other Union churches of the same era. We are very confident that the restoration is very close to the original that once stood in the very same location. The Elias Church is restored but we still have no heat or electricity. The electricity issue is being addressed and that work will be done by December 5. The heat will have to wait until the Elias garage is restored. That out building will house restrooms, offices, storage and utilities for the church. The utilities will be fed underground to the church. We are making progress on raising funds for this phase of the project. We believe that we could begin in the fall of 2011 on the Elias garage. There is still landscaping to be done. That will probably have to wait until next spring. The Elias church is on the Holiday house tour on December 5. The church will be beautifully decorated for the Christmas season and will be available for tour goers to walk through. We are still in need of donations. Specifically, $15,000 we owe to pay for the construction of the pulpit. Please help if you can!

Work on the pulpit has begun. Frank Stroik, who restored the Gutelius House, is doing the work. He is an expert on preservation and restoration construction and does outstanding work. The pulpit should be installed and ready for paint in a week or two. In 1885 a Reformed minister wrote this very interesting description of the pulpit. This was written in a Reformed document called the “Messenger.” “The pulpit of this church was on the south side, of wine glass shape, high up against the wall.” We have physical evidence, historical photos and access to similar pulpits still in existence that allow us to restore the pulpit to its original design. We still have some landscaping to do. We have to rake and seed the lawn. Hopefully that will be done in September.

The sidewalks and parking area are now complete. The parking is on the west side of the Elias Church and it consists of two handicapped spaces. We still have to rake the ground so that grass can be planted. We moved nineteen pews back in the church. We will clean them off, put them in place and screw them to the floor. Some minor repairs may be needed. Now we will work on getting the approval to actually use the building.

The weather is finally warming and the site work to finish up the landscaping will begin shortly. We will be installing the lawn, sidewalks and plantings. Planning is also underway to rebuild the small garage east of the church. This building will house restrooms, storage and office space. The basement of this building will contain all the systems for the Elias Church, i.e. heating, electrical, etc. The utilities will be run underground to the church.

The interior reconstruction is essentially complete! It is a glorious sight and the “Old Elias Church” looks magnificent. There a a few minor details to take care of yet. The lights are on order, they are being hand crafted and will not be ready until March or April. We don’t have electricity yet anyway. The building will be getting a thorough cleaning and we will be ready to install the pews. That should happen as soon as HEPCO releases the project back to us after a final inspection. The landscaping and site work will not be completed until the weather warms up. There is also some exterior painting to do which will also have to wait for warmer weather. We hope to be able to have some events in the church this spring or summer. Updated photos are on the photo page. Take a look! We hope to be able to give some tours shortly so that everyone can see the project in person.

The landscaping and site-work has begun albeit a month or two after we anticipated it would. Of course that seems to be par for the course for this entire project. It seems like we spend more time dealing with bureaucracies than we do actually getting something done on the building. Oh well, if we measure the progress we have made since the inception of this idea, it gives one the sense of thankfulness and accomplishment. After the site-work is done the project will still not be entirely completed but we will be able to use the building. In the meantime we will continue to forge ahead on the remainder of the project. Now onto a description of the work. One tree was cut down to make room for parking and sidewalks. It was the southern most tree on the western part of the property. All the parking areas and sidewalks have been excavated and the base material was put in. This work should be complete in a week or two.

The floor was walnut blasted and all the shells have been cleaned up. Because of the dust that this process creates plastic was used to confine the material as much as possible to the first floor and to keep it off the walls. Cleaning up afterword was a big job. This morning we had a job conference meeting at the church with the architect and the contractor. We are now discussing the final items relating to the project. We will be having a final “code” walk-through in the next few weeks. One-half of the roof on the south side is complete. Hopefully if the weather cooperates we will have the entire roof complete by the end of this week. It has been a long time since the Old Elias Church has looked this glorious!

There are a few more projects to complete during this first phase of the restoration. The majority of last week was spent uncovering and repairing the first-floor flooring. A “new” layer of flooring was placed on top of the original floor in circa 1920 when the building was converted into a double-dwelling. That “newer” layer has now been removed. It is estimated that approximately forty to fifty percent of the floor boards may date to 1806. This is just a guess arrived at by investigating and searching for clues on each board individually. As you could surmise the floor took a lot of abuse over the 200 plus year life of the church. It is probable that most of the severe wear took place during the barn period and the buggy repository period. Because of modifications and heavy use some floor boards were replaced over the years. This week the floor will be “walnut blasted”. This is a process similar to sand blasting but with crushed walnut shells instead of sand. Because of undulations from years of wear, sanding the floor with a traditional floor sander will not be a viable option. Walnut shells are less aggressive than sand and will do a good job of cleaning the dirt, grime and paint from the floor. The roof is to be completed this week also. We will see if the weather allows work to continue. I will try to post photos next week. The last week or two work was being done but it was not the kind of work that would be readily apparent in photos.