Playhouse and Music Theatre

The Historic Elias Church
Building and Grounds Journal and Other Significant Notes

April 9, 2005 (Saturday)

This was the first official workday on the building and grounds. There were porches on both the east and west sides of the building. It is believed that these porches were added in the 1920’s. By the end of the workday both porches were approximately 50% removed. We were excited to discover that pieces from the steeple were used under the porches for supports. Most of them were rotted but we are hoping to be able to use them as patterns to help reconstruct the steeple. Also, a small section of the outer siding was removed on the south side and the original siding underneath was revealed. Carving initials in the siding must have been a popular pastime at some point in the building’s history because many were exposed when the outer layer was peeled away. It would be interesting to discover who these people were. The work site was cleaned up and the work-party called it a day.

April 14, 2005 (Thursday)

The remainders of both porches were removed. On the west side we also discovered what we think are floor joists for the lofts that were once inside. We will know more when we dismantle the inside of the building.

April 16, 2005 (Saturday)

We cleaned (removed nails) and stacked lumber from the porches. We are saving what materials we can for possible reuse later in the project. The outer siding was removed around the perimeter of the building up to the bottom of the windows (approximately three feet up). This is in preparation to begin work on restoring the foundation. A load of brush was removed from the property and the work site was cleaned up. We are making a concerted effort to keep the property as neat as possible.

April 21, 2005 (Thursday)

The work crews finished cleaning the nails from the lumber and stacked it neatly for reuse later on the project. Part of the drywall was removed inside so we could move from one side of the building to the other without going outside. Arrangements were made for restrooms near the church, which alleviates a somewhat, practical concern. Soon we will remove all the drywall inside so we can inspect the framing before any work is begun on the foundation.

April 23, 2005 (Saturday)

This was another exciting day on the work site. We moved inside to begin removing drywall on the first floor. It was interesting to note that this drywall was probably installed sometime between 1921 and 1931, when the building was made into a residence. We were all surprised to find drywall instead of plaster on the walls. According to documentation found on the back of a removed piece, this drywall was patented in 1912 and re-patented in 1921, at least this particular batch. This is interesting because Architect, Arrol Gellner claimed in a 2003 article on the Inman News web site, that the United States Gypsum Company invented drywall in 1916. Since plaster and lathe were used extensively in our area well into the 1960’s it is highly likely that this was one of the first buildings in Mifflinburg where drywall was used. About one-fourth of the downstairs drywall was removed. The framing will be left in place until it is all cleaned and exposed and we can inspect the structure. Under the drywall we discovered some of the original wall covering/sheeting from 1806. The interior walls were covered with flat boards and they are approximately 16”to 18” wide. It was quite an exciting discovery. We are hopeful to find more as we proceed throughout the building.

April 28, 2005 (Thursday)

A lot was accomplished today inside the building. All the drywall was removed from walls and ceiling in the north side apartment except for the kitchen. Some very interesting framing was revealed especially in the ceiling. Two large beams were exposed. They are approximately 18” square. We suspect that at one time they both “ran” the length of the building in each direction. It appears that these carried the weight of the galleries. From information that we have gathered so far, the church had galleries (or lofts with seating) on the west, north and east sides of the building. The unfortunate thing is that the beam paralleling the north wall, which supported the north gallery, was cut off to make way for the stairway to the second floor of the north apartment. A rod was hung from the trusses in the ceiling down to support the beam at the end where it was cut. The beam paralleling the west wall should be revealed on the next workday as we tackle drywall in the south apartment. The kitchen to the north apartment was gutted and readied for drywall removal. Initial exploration indicates that we will find the original wall sheeting in at least some parts of the kitchen. All the walls in the north apartment, except for the kitchen, are free of drywall and a patchwork of old boards and original sheeting is present. A majority of these boards will be removed at a later date to inspect the framing beneath.

April 30, 2005 (Saturday)

More drywall was removed, mostly from the south apartment. About one-third of the drywall remains on the first floor. The support beam paralleling the west side was revealed. It appears that is was cut off on the south end. It is a mystery as to why. Hopefully we will determine this as we move forward. The building went through several transformations in its 200 plus year history and sorting it all out will be both complex and interesting. Our goal is to determine what the building was like when built as a church in 1806.

May 5, 2005 (Thursday)

We worked on several areas of the church today. A partition that divided the attic in two was removed. The boards that were used on this wall appeared to have had a previous life installed on the outside of another building. There may have been a shed attached on the north side of the church at one time and it is surmised that these boards may have come from there. There was an old latch found on one of the boards. The entire attic is now open and the whole space can be viewed at once. It is quite a sight to see all the curved ceiling joists all perfectly aligned. We also worked on removing more drywall today. We finished all removal of downstairs drywall except for the walls and ceiling in the south kitchen. One more workday should easily finish up downstairs drywall removal. Of course with the removal of more downstairs drywall more mysteries were revealed. The beam paralleling the north side that had been cut for the stairs resumed on the other side over the kitchen. Now we have a beam traveling the entire length of the building with a three to four foot section that was removed to accommodate the stairs. It is a slight disappointment that so far two of the beams that carried the weight of the galleries were cut off at some point in their life.

May 7, 2005 (Saturday)

The south kitchen was dismantled and the all the drywall was removed. The entire beam paralleling the east side was exposed and to our dismay its south end was cut and headed off in the same manner as its counterpart paralleling the west side. We suspect that they were both cut to accommodate stairs to the second story because in both the southeast and southwest corners of the building there are profiles of stairs on the wall left by old paint. All the framing in the downstairs is now exposed. It will now be our job to investigate all the clues the building is showing us so we can determine what is was like in 1806 when it was built.

May 12, 2005 (Thursday)

We began removing all the drywall from the second floor. Approximately one-half of the north-side dwelling was completed. There was nothing under the drywall like the first floor and as such the framing was immediately exposed for our inspection. We were able to determine that the original windows were smaller than what is there now and that they were also lowered to accommodate the seven-foot ceiling heights. We think that parts of the windows may be original but were altered. At least now we have an idea of the sizes and positions of the original windows, at least on the second floor. These windows would have provided light to the galleries. We anticipate these discoveries to hold true throughout the second floor. One interesting question we have no answer for yet: where are the original boards that lined the walls like we found on the first floor?

May 14, 2005 (Saturday)

All of the drywall was removed from the second floor, north-side apartment. So far our suspicions about all the windows are holding consistent. They are all altered in the same manner. Some preliminary findings with a string level in the attic show some settling on the south side of about one and one-half inches, not bad for two hundred years if you ask me.

May 19, 2005 (Thursday)

The morning was spent building racks in the shed for storing the lumber that is removed from the building. There is quite a bit of material and keeping it organized with limited storage space is challenging and the problem will be exacerbated if we don’t stay organized as the project moves forward. In the afternoon we removed all the remaining trim boards throughout the upstairs. All of the trim in the entire building is now removed.

May 21, 2005 (Saturday)

The day was spent cleaning and organizing lumber and removing nails from the framing and walls throughout the downstairs. It is much easier to remove nails while the framing is still standing and anchored in place. This was a day when it appears that nothing got done but in reality a lot of tedious and necessary work was completed.

May 26, 2005 (Thursday)

Today we built a ramp to the east side door. This was necessary to ensure that people could safely enter the building to view it or work on it. Drywall was removed from the ceilings of all but one room upstairs. A variety of small items of interest were found on top of the drywall. These items had obviously fallen down through the cracks in the attic floor at some point during the buildings life. Most of the items provide a glimpse of life in the apartments since the 1920’s. The first floor was cleaned and organized in preparation for the Mifflinburg Elementary School’s fourth grade class tour of “The Old Elias Church”.

May 28, 2005 (Saturday)

Today the work crew removed boards that lined the inside walls of the structure on the first floor, on both the north and west sides. The only boards that were removed were the ones that were obviously not original to the 1806 construction. We are doing this in order to reveal the framing underneath. Here is what we discovered today on the west wall: The lower windows (first floor) are in the original locations and are in the original rough openings. In 1806 there was one door in the center of the west wall. The wall was altered in the 1920’s to accommodate two doors, one for each apartment. Pictures circa 1900 of the building show a door in the southwest corner of the west wall. It was determined that this door was not original to the 1806 construction but we are not certain when it was added. Here is what we discovered on the north wall: The two outside windows are in the original locations and are in the original rough openings. The center window was added sometime during the building’s life. The original construction had a door where this center window is. A lot of questions were answered today about the first floor windows, at least on the north and west sides. Everyday the “puzzle” becomes clearer. It is both exciting and interesting for all of us to contemplate each day’s new discoveries.

June 2, 2005 (Thursday)

All the drywall was removed today throughout the remainder of the church. It was a landmark day because removing the wallboard was quite messy and dusty. There were a lot of critters that made the building home throughout the years. It appears that squirrels were especially fond of stashing walnuts above the drywall on the ceiling of the upstairs rooms. We collected a lot of miscellaneous items found in the walls and ceilings that provided a glimpse of past life in the building. Most of the items were related to the period from the 1920’s and apartment life. We also removed some more boards off of the walls on the first floor. We discovered more evidence of the main door on the north wall. By the hinge points and its size it is thought that the church possibly had double-dutch doors on this side. The most interesting discovery of the day was a board approximately 8 feet long and 6 inches wide. It was covered with carvings of initials, names and dates. The most prominent date clearly visible was May 4, 1823 along with the name Farnsworth. This will be studied in more detail at a later date but these kinds of discoveries are what keep us coming back to work day after day. It is very exciting. We are always on the look out for the next interesting find. The remainder of the day was spent cleaning up and reading the building in anticipation of a tour and lecture during buggy days this coming weekend.

June 4, 2005 (Saturday)

We were very fortunate to be the recipients of 47 church pews. Pine Street Lutheran Church in Danville donated the pews. They are doing renovations to their sanctuary and are replacing their pews and therefore wanted to give us the old ones. One of their elderly members told us that they believe the pews are over 150 years old. They fit perfectly with our project and will serve us well until we can build replicas of what was in the Elias church in 1806. We had a crew of 14 people who removed the pews and loaded them onto a 48-foot tractor-trailer provided by Rick Erdley. It was hard work but well worth it. The pews were stored in local barns and will remain there until they are needed at the Elias Church. We also did some last minute cleaning and organizing for the upcoming buggy days presentation so not much work got done today on the actual building itself. Buggy days is going on and a lot of folks have been milling around the building, looking in the windows and reading the literature posted on the community bulletin board outside on the shed. We hope to have a good turnout tomorrow for our guided tour.

June 5, 2005 (Sunday)

At 1:30pm Robert Lynch gave an outstanding guided tour of the building and grounds. His presentation lasted approximately one hour. He was detained at the building answering questions until 5:00pm. He generated a lot of interest and excitement that will hopefully be sustained and built upon as we move forward with this project. This project is generating a lot of excitement in Mifflinburg.

June 9, 2005 (Thursday)

Today we removed the plumbing from the bathrooms and kitchens and worked on other odds and ends. We are getting ready to remove the boards from the east and south walls. We cleaned the work site in preparation for our meeting on June 11.

June 11, 2005 (Saturday)

Today we had a short two-hour work session followed by a meeting of all of the Elias church committee members, as well as a tour and luncheon. We began removing the attic floorboards. Our intentions are to remove the attic entirely and then proceed to the second floor and remove everything but the floors on the galleries. We will work off scaffolding and lifts when the actual restoration begins. About one-fourth of the attic floor was removed. In the process we discovered a lot of interesting old boards that certainly warrant further investigation. It seems like everyday more and more questions that we have are answered but also more and more questions arise. It is truly an exciting and interesting process put this “puzzle” together.

June 15, 2005 (Wednesday)

Four of the committee members; Frank Stroik, Bob Lynch, Mike Lynch, Carl Catherman and Pastor John Vought took a “field trip” to the historic Bindnagle Evangelical Lutheran Church near Palmyra, PA. The congregation was founded in 1745 and the current building was built in 1803. It is a brick structure and its inside is strikingly similar to what our own Elias church once was. I couldn’t begin to describe everything that we saw. You must see it to believe it! It really elevated our enthusiasm concerning our own project. If you remember back to June 2, 2005 I wrote about a board that we found with carvings on it. We discovered many identical boards at the Bindnagle church. It was determined that this board was mounted to the back of the pews, at a slight angle, and was used as a place to rest the hymnals during the service. Some of their boards had carvings on them as well, mostly in the galleries and on the pews that tended to be in the back. They were in areas that the kids could get away with a little mischief without being detected. We also traveled to Franklin and Marshall College to the German Reformed Church archives to see if we could find any historical accounts or records that would provide a detailed description of the Elias Church. We did not have much luck but we will keep looking.

June 16, 2005 (Thursday)

Today we removed boards from the inside of the east and south walls. The boards that we removed were not original to the location that they were currently in. Almost then entire east wall was altered at one time but there are enough clues so that we know where all the doors and windows were located. This will all be reconstructed in the future. On the south wall we discovered evidence of a door that we believe was installed by the school in 1857. It was removed sometime after that but we are not sure when. One thing that we do know is that no door existed on the south side when the church was built in 1806. We are also in possession of a painting from the mid to late1800’s that shows this door as well. All the boards that were removed will be kept and possibly reused later in the project.

June 18, 2005 (Saturday)

The work crew returned to the attic and removed floorboards. Approximately one-half of the attic flooring is now removed. The majority of the boards used for the attic floor were tongue and groove about six inches wide and straight sawn suggesting that they could be of 1806 vintage. Some were extremely worn, suggesting that they were previously used on a floor somewhere besides the attic; the galleries perhaps but we don’t have anything else to substantiate this theory. We surmise that the wear they are showing are not consistent with the light foot traffic that the attic floor would have gotten. There were however, a good variety of other types of miscellaneous boards that were also used to construct the attic floor. The people who put this floor on used anything and everything that they had on hand. A portion of the removed boards were cleaned and stacked on the galleries. One of our biggest challenges relating to this project is storing the lumber that we remove from the church. We are trying to keep the shed as organized as possible to maximize our storage space and this is where we will put as much lumber as we can.

June 25, 2005 (Saturday)

Today we finished removing all the attic floorboards. At the present time they are all stacked on the galleries and next work session we will have to deal with removing the nails and getting them to the shed.

June 30, 2005 (Thursday)

We had two separate tasks going today. One crew was dealing with all the lumber that we have stacked all over the galleries. A good portion of it was taken out of the building, the nails were removed and it was stored in the shed. The other crew was removing attic floor joists. We removed approximately one-third of all joists and the lumber was stacked outside. We are trying to be as careful as possible and preserve as much of this lumber as we can for reuse later in the project. Hence, it takes a little longer than if we were to just “rip” it out. All these joists still have to be de-nailed.

July 1, 2005 (Friday)

Frank Stroik dismantled the chimney on the east side of the church. The blocks were removed to below the roof and the roof patched. The remainder of the blocks will be removed tomorrow. This chimney was supported by the attic floor and exited the roof at the peak near the east gable end of the building.

July 2, 2005 (Saturday)

The remainder of the east chimney was removed. We can now finish removing all the attic floor joists. Also, some more attic floorboards were “cleaned”, removed from the building and stacked in the shed. Keeping all the lumber organized is a job in itself.

July 7, 2005 (Thursday)

Cleaning and organizing lumber was again the focus of the day. A rack was built in the east side of the shed and all the loose lumber was stacked inside. We are trying to provide space for all of the framing that is about to be removed from the second floor of the church.

July 9, 2005 (Saturday)

We essentially had three tasks going on today: removing and cleaning loose lumber from the building, dismantling the south side chimney and removing the remainder of the framing from the south side apartment second floor. Any loose lumber lying around in the building, because we had nowhere to store it, was removed, cleaned and stacked in the shed. We are trying to keep the work site and building as clean and neat as possible. In addition, the south side chimney was dismantled, the roof was patched and the chimney block was removed from the building. Finally, the south side attic steps and the remainder of the framing, including the attic floor joists, in the south side apartment were removed. One-half of all the second floor framing is now gone. Standing on the second floor you get a glorious view of the unique trusses and framing supporting the building. The more the building is opened up the more spectacular the “Ole Elias Church” becomes. It is as if this great church is slowly coming back to life and God is waiting to return to this place where His word was taught for 51 years.

July 14, 2005 (Thursday)

The dismantled chimney blocks were removed from the grounds to a site out Forest Hill Road and will be used as fill.

July 16, 2005 (Saturday)

Lumber that had been removed from the building, the last few workdays, was cleaned and stored in the shed. We also took a load of scrap materials to a site to be burned. As I have noted many times before, keeping the building and grounds clean, neat and organized is a chore in itself.

July 23, 2005 (Saturday)

Today was a milestone day because we removed all the framing from the second story, including the north side attic stairs. Most of the lumber was “cleaned” and stacked on the west side gallery floor. There is some minor cleaning and some miscellaneous nailers to be removed up there yet but the view of the buildings magnificent trusses is now unencumbered.

July 27, 2005 (Wednesday)

Today a historic preservation specialist was here to analyze paint samples from throughout the building. Our goal is to determine the colors and ages of paints that were used during the buildings life. Of course our main interest is in finding the colors of the church when it was first built. We are awaiting the results.

July 30, 2005 (Saturday)

Clean up was the theme again today. We are accumulating a lot of lumber and our storage shed is not large enough to accommodate all the materials that we are removing from the building. The other dilemma is that we will be renovating the shed or rebuilding a new structure so anything that we put in the shed will have to be eventually moved. Hence, we located another area in town where we can store materials. We moved all items stored on the grounds, outside the building, to the storage area. We also removed materials that we are disposing of, to be burned.

August 4, 2005 (Thursday)

The clean up and organizational process continued today again. We spent the entire day removing lumber from the second floor, cleaning lumber in the shed and transporting all of it to our storage area in town. This aspect of the project is requiring quite a bit of our time and energy. As we were working today we came across posts form the porch that were removed during the very early stages of the project. After further review we believe that they possibly were posts that were used to originally support the galleries inside. This is exciting because if we are correct we will have a good idea of what the post were constructed of and how they appeared. The posts will require further evaluation.

August 6, 2005 (Saturday)

We had two crews on duty today and each had a unique assignment. One crew spent a traditional work day cleaning and organizing lumber from the shed, removing lumber form the second floor and transporting all of it to our off-site storage area in town. We are beginning to recover some room in the garage because of all the lumber that we are moving to storage off-site. This is good because eventually we will be renovating or rebuilding the garage to make it more structurally sound and more functional. We surely don’t want to have to move all that material again. Our other work crew was on moving duty. An organ was donated to the Elias Church so we organized a party to pick it up and move it to storage. The organ was quite heavy and required the muscles of five grown men with a piano dolly. The organ itself contains sixty-five speakers. This took several hours but was well worth the effort. It is now safely stored in a secure location.

August 11, 2005 (Thursday)

Time was spent cleaning lumber in the storage shed again and also removing nailers on the second floor. These nailers were put in place in 1921 and were positioned to attach the drywall. We completed all removal except for one-half of the east wall and one-half of the south wall. This will be easily completed on the next workday. Finally it is safe to say that all of the lumber removed to this point is now cleaned and stacked away. This won’t last long however because there is quite a bit more to remove from the building. It is a good feeling to be caught up though.

August 13, 2005 (Saturday)

All the nailers on the second floor were removed today. The south sets of stairs were removed in one piece. We also spent part of the day cleaning and organizing the work site. We hauled away a load of scrap wood for burning.

August 18, 2005 (Thursday)

The entire day was spent organizing the work site, pulling nails and cleaning the second story walls. There is still a lot of excess dirt and debris in the crack and crevices of the floors and walls on the second floor. We spent today vacuuming and cleaning the upstairs walls. We are going to clean on top of all beams and trusses in an attempt to clear most of the dirt from top to bottom. We have about two more days of vacuuming until everything is cleaned to our satisfaction. We are really making progress and the building is really shaping up. It is fascinating to see the awesome trusses with an unobstructed view from the galleries. The tree service was here today thinning the huge silver maple, on the southeast corner of the lot, so a crane can get access to it. The tree is much too big to fell it to the ground. It will take some skill to remove it without damage to the church or shed. That is why we are calling in the heavy equipment.

August 19, 2005 (Friday)

Unfortunately the Silver Maple tree that stands on the south side of the shed is in its last days. The tree is approximately seven feet in diameter at the trunk and is estimated to be approximately eighty years old. Silver Maples grow very rapidly and therefore to the layman the tree appears to be much older than it really is. It is sad to see it go but we need the space on the lot and more importantly it is a threat to the church and shed. Some of the tree’s huge limbs are hanging dangerously over the roof of the building. The tree service was here again today thinning the tree. They finished the job and are now ready to call in the crane to remove the remainder of the tree’s trunk and limbs.

August 20, 2005 (Saturday)

Will the cleaning and organizing ever end? It takes time from actual work but it is a necessary evil. In addition to cleaning we hauled a load of scrap wood to be burned and a load of lumber to our storage area.

August 23, 2005 (Tuesday)

The crane was here today and the tree service removed the remainder of the silver maple. It was a sad but necessary task. Now the tree lies on the ground waiting to be hauled away. The remainder of the tree will become firewood and lumber. There are a few logs that will produce lumber so there are interested parties willing to take the wood away without cost to us. We can’t use the lumber for our project so there is no sense in spending the time, effort and money to recover it. As disappointing as it was to see the tree go it opened up a glorious view of the east side of the church and provided an abundance of light inside the building itself.

August 25, 2005 (Thursday)

Today we removed both sets of attic stairs from the gallery where we had them temporarily stored. They were moved outside and will eventually be taken to our storage area and then sold. We continued work on the galleries; vacuuming and cleaning the second story walls and bracing up the remaining chimney that still stands on the north side. It will be removed on the next workday. We also did some work on the first floor, removing all the knob and tube wiring and lighting fixtures as well as cleaning the lumber that is still stored there.

August 27, 2005 (Saturday)

The chimney was removed today. The debris still needs hauled away but that will get done next week. It gives us peace of mind to have all the chimneys removed because we were concerned about the stability and safety of them. Work on the first floor was also accomplished today. Drywall nails were removed from the ceiling joists. We are preparing the building so we can begin removing some of the second story floor soon.

September 1, 2005 (Thursday)

Today we hauled away the blocks and debris from the dismantled chimney and both sets of attic stairs were moved to our storage area. We are now turning our focus to installing temporary supports for the large beams that support the galleries. If you recall from earlier journal entries, all three beams were cut at some point during the life of the building. The beams that parallel the east and west walls were cut by the school during its renovation in 1857. It was done to make room for two sets of identical stairs that were installed in the southwest and southeast corners. This gave the school children access to the second floor. S. W. Diehl cut the beam that parallels the north wall during his 1920’s renovation into apartments. It was cut to make room for the stairs that were installed in the north side apartment. Without cutting the beams there would not have been adequate headroom while ascending or descending the stairs. We removed small sections of the floor where our temporary beams will stand and exposed the original floor. The original floor gave inconclusive evidence of where the original posts were located until they were removed in circa 1920. It is our belief, from what we have discovered to date, that there were only two posts used in the entire first floor in 1806. We were able to measure the post footprints on the original floor and match them to two posts that we have in the shed. The posts were removed from the south porch. We were excited to find that we have the 1806 posts. The only dilemma is that tops were cut off to shorten them.

September 2, 2005 (Friday)

Another small patch of floor was removed today to accommodate a post supporting the beam paralleling the east wall. This is necessary to repair the cut-off beam.

September 3, 2005 (Saturday)

We removed a load of wood and debris from the premises and transported it to a site to be burned. More nails were removed from the ceiling joists on the first floor. A temporary post was added at the jointure of the beam paralleling the west wall and the one paralleling the north wall. We used the original post that we had in the shed and added a length to it. It is fascinating to have the original post back up in its original location even though it is temporary at this point. We also cut an opening in the gallery floor in the northwest corner of the building. This opening will temporarily host a set of stairs that will give us access to the gallery. The stairs we are going to use are the ones removed from the south apartment. When we get these temporary stairs in place then we will remove the north side stairs and repair the cut beam.

September 8, 2005 (Thursday)

Two more sections of floorboards were cut today. These sections will hold temporary posts. The posts are necessary in order to repair the main beams, to remove all the framing on the first floor and to remove the section of the second floor that was added by the school in 1857. There will be a total of five temporary posts.

September 10 2005 (Saturday)

We worked on getting the temporary stairs ready to install. We also placed a work crew on the outside of the building. We began removing the outer most siding on the north side up to the top of the first floor windows. This siding was put on in the 1920’s. Our intention is to expose the sill around the perimeter of the church so we can inspect it and eventually repair it. After all layers of siding are removed we will cover the framing with OSB sheeting and winterize it with house wrap.

September 15, 2005 (Thursday)

We continued our efforts removing the siding on the north side of the building. We are approximately one-third complete with the north side. We also cut large wedges for use when putting up our temporary posts inside. They will allow us to use the posts to raise the gallery support beams to a precise height.

September 17, 2005 (Saturday)

More work was done on the outside siding. The outer layer of siding on the north side is now approximately two-thirds removed.

September 22, 2005 (Thursday)

The day was spent cleaning, setting up pews and preparing for a general meeting on Saturday. We are using the church pews that were donated to us to provide seating in the church for our meeting.

September 24, 2005 (Saturday)

We had a general meeting today at 10:00am at the church. The meeting was mostly informational and was followed by a short tour of the premises. The main purpose of the meeting was to update the Elias Church Committee members on what has been accomplished to date and to discuss our future plans for the project. Later in the afternoon a small work party moved lumber that was stored off-site in our storage area. We had to move it to another location because the building it was in is being razed.

September 29, 2005 (Thursday)

In order to repair the three gallery beams and to remove all the first floor framing, temporary posts will be required. Today was spent in the crawl spaces under the first floor. We installed blocking under the floor where the temporary posts will be placed. This was required so that the structural weight can be transferred to the foundation and supports under the floor. All the blocking is now in place and work on the temporary posts will begin on the next workday. We also removed a non-supporting wall on the east side of the north apartment steps. The remnants of this wall will be used to make the temporary posts.

October 1, 2005 (Saturday)

Work resumed on the exterior of the building. The original siding was removed from the foundation up to approximately 4 feet. Since the 1920 siding was removed on a previous workday, the 1806 siding was exposed. It was carefully removed and each board numbered so that it’s original location is recorded. OSB (Oriented Strand Board) was screwed onto the framing in its place. Unfortunately the 1806 siding is not in great shape. In 1920 the lap on most of it was chiseled off so it would lay flat and provide a good base for the new siding. If this is any indication of how we will find the rest of the original siding we will have to replace most of it on the church. Work also began on readying the temporary posts for installation. Three of them were cut and are now ready for assembly. They consist of three 2 1/2” x 8” boards screwed together.

October 6, 2005 (Thursday)

No work was done on the building today. The work crew spent the day helping with a project at the Gutelius House on Green Street.

October 8, 2005 (Saturday)

Since it was raining outside our focus was on readying the first floor so that the framing can be removed. Three temporary posts were partially constructed. There is a little work that remains on them, mostly trim work. Since we don’t know how long these posts will be in place our goal is to make them as functional and as authentic as we can. We also removed drywall nailers form the downstairs ceiling. Approximately one-fourth of them are now removed. We were excited to find that a good portion of the nailers were parts to a railing. We believe that this railing is original to 1806. The unfortunate thing is that these pieces were cut and none are longer than 18” to 24”. It will be our job now to see if we can piece them together and figure out where they were originally installed. They do give us some great clues as to the actual design of the church interior. We also cut a hole in the northeast corner of the gallery floor. This hole will accept temporary stairs until a duplicate of the original stairs can be built. The temporary stairs that we will be using are the ones that were installed in 1921. We are simply moving them to their new, temporary location. The gallery will have two functioning temporary sets of stairs. Our goal is to make the gallery useable as we are restoring the church.

October 13, 2005 (Thursday)

The day was spent cleaning up the premises. A group of school kids will be coming for a tour tomorrow.

October 14, 2005 (Friday)

Linntown elementary fifth grades students visited for a tour. Three groups came throughout the day. It was part of a historical tour of sites in Union County.

October 15, 2005 (Saturday)

We removed the 1920 siding on the east side of the church. It was removed up to about eight feet. Unfortunately the entire side has been altered. On most of the building the1920 siding was installed directly over the 1806 siding. However, there are many places that have been altered sufficiently and the original siding was replaced with scrap boards during several alterations on the building. Not all of the original 1806 siding on the building now is original or in its original location. There are no original 1906 siding boards below the tops of the windows on the east side. It is believed that large barn doors may have been installed on this side of the building at one time. It was used as a barn from 1876 to 1904 and it is logical to believe that the doors could have been installed at that time. We also took a load of scrap and waste to be burned as well as did some framing on the stair opening in the northeast corner.

October 20, 2005 (Thursday)

The day was spent moving church pews again. We moved them to a more permanent location. Now approximately one-half of the pews are at the church and the other half are stored in Rick Erdley’s barn. He graciously allowed us to store them there.

October 22, 2005 (Saturday)

Framing of the opening for the stairs in the northeast corner was finished today. The plan is to use the south side apartment steps that were removed earlier and install them temporarily in this location. The northeast corner was the area that one of the two original sets of stairs was installed in 1806. These stairs will remain here until our timetable and fundraising permits us to rebuild the original set. We also started removing the second story floorboards over the center of the church. The framing and floor were added in 1857 by the school board. They enclosed the center area, level with the galleries, for use as a room upstairs. A logical assumption is that the school’s flooring was again replaced when the apartments were installed, circa 1920. We don’t have any clues as to what happened to the old floorboards because they were removed. The flooring that we are removing now is two and one-quarter inches wide and three-quarter inches thick and is believed to be yellow pine. This starts the process of opening up the area above the Alter. The floor where the original gallery was will remain intact for now. The three-sided gallery extends approximately ten feet from the walls on the west, north and east sides of the second floor.

October 27, 2005 (Thursday)

More second story floor boards were removed today. The top of the beam paralleling the north wall was exposed when the boards were removed. Some interesting mortises were exposed. We surmise that these were related to the original railing that lined the galleries in 1806. As more flooring is removed more clues will be revealed. The stairs from the south apartment was moved and hoisted into place in the northeast corner of the church. They are now functional and allow us to access the galleries. They will remain in this place until the 1806 stairs can be rebuilt.
October 29, 2005 (Saturday)

The majority of our time today was spent removing the north side apartment stairs. They were removed and maneuvered into position in the northwest corner of the building and now ready for installation. They will be installed in an identical fashion as the stairs in the northeast corner.

October 31, 2005 (Monday)

There are two doors on both the east and west sides of the building. The stairs that were just installed in the northeast corner now block the northern most door on the east side of the building. Unfortunately the door that was affected is the only one that is operational on the east side so today was spent repairing the other door and making it functional. A lock was installed and the door was made functional so we now have access to the building through the southern-most door on the east side.

November 3, 2005 (Thursday)

The remainder of the flooring was removed from the second story, in the center of the building above the Alter. We will now concentrate on removing floor joists in the center area. One half of the exterior, east side of the church was cleared of all boards and sheeted with OSB. The northern most door was removed and the opening sheeted over. We are sheeting it because the OSB can be removed easily for any repair work. Soon it will then be covered with house wrap to temporarily protect it from weather. The grounds on the east side of the church were cleaned up, raked and made to look presentable. A landing was constructed and the stairs were hoisted into position, braced and readied for installation. The final installation will be done on the next workday.

November 5, 2005 (Saturday)

The west side stairs were leveled, fastened and braced. They are now functional. It is a fine accomplishment to have both sets of stairs in place and out of the way.

November 7, 2005 (Monday)

One-third of the floor joists in the center of the second story were removed today. It is a grand sight to stand where the Alter was, look up and see the arched roof trusses. This is the grandeur of the church and it is humbling to see light shine down from above just as it did from 1806 to 1857 when God’s Word echoed in this hallowed chamber.

November 8, 2005 (Tuesday)

When the Silver Maple tree was removed the grass and ground around the tree were trampled by tree and equipment so today was spent raking and working on restoring that area. It was repaired and we await the emergence of the green grass again next spring.

November 10, 2005 (Thursday)

A railing was installed along the gallery on three sides. Its intent is to provide a margin of safety so that workers cannot inadvertently fall off the edge. The railing is made of 2x4’s that were removed from other parts of the building. All but a small section of the railing is complete. It will remain there until an authentic, reconstructed railing can be built as it was in 1806.

November 12, 2005 (Saturday)

Today was used as a clean up day. Flooring removed from the second story was cleaned and stacked on the gallery for reuse. We took a load of scrap lumber and debris to be burned.

November 14, 2005 (Monday)

Oak boards were installed on the floor where the temporary posts will be set in the southeast and northeast corners. The posts in these locations were also set in place. A total of five temporary posts will be installed until the beams supporting the gallery are repaired. In the end the building will remain with two posts permanently in place as it was in 1806.

November 15, 2005 (Tuesday)

Today we planed and readied more oak floorboards for use under the posts and removed another one-third of the second story, center floor joists.

November 16, 2005 (Wednesday)

We installed another post in the southwest corner to supporting the beam paralleling the west wall and removed the remainder of the floor joists and most of the wall framing downstairs. There are only a few pieces of lumber left standing that need to be removed. That should be done tomorrow.

November 17, 2005 (Thursday)

The remainder of the downstairs framing was removed. The building is now viewed as it was in 1806 and it is a spectacular sight. It is humbling to see it, as it was when it was built. The remainder of the day was spent repairing downstairs floorboards, cleaning lumber and taking it to our storage area off site. We are making progress and now must make the building presentable and safe.

November 19, 2005 (Saturday)

Clean up day! A lot of the framing removed from the first floor was on piles scattered throughout the building. Today we focused on de-nailing lumber, stacking it and general cleanup. We made good progress and the church actually looks quite clean and organized.

November 21, 2005 (Monday)

The push has been on to get the church ready for upcoming tours and performances. The Elias church is scheduled to be on the house tour on Sunday, December 4 and there will be a singing performance during the Christkindl Market the following week. That gives us less than two weeks to finish up some last minute details to make this building ready for the public. Today was spent moving stacked lumber to our storage area and taking a trailer load of scrap and debris to be burned. Slowly but surely we are getting closer to being ready for tours and performances.

November 24, 2005 (Thursday)

Thanksgiving Day - no work today.

November 25, 2005 (Friday)

Today we worked on patching the flooring. The biggest part of this project is covering the openings where the cellar stairs were with trap doors. We have to cover the hole but keep it accessible so we can get to the basement if necessary.

November 26, 2005 (Saturday)

We de-nailed floor joists that were stacked on the gallery and removed them from the building. We stacked them outside and covered them with a tarp. They will be moved to our storage area sometime next week. All the framing has now been cleaned and removed from the building. It is a “landmark day” to have this phase of our restoration project completed. The flooring underneath where the walls and stairways stood need patched. The sub-floor is still there which is the original floor from 1806 but flooring installed in the 1920’s over top of this floor did not run under the walls and stairs so we patched these areas with flooring that was salvaged from the second story. About one-half of the floor patching is now complete. We moved six church pews up to the gallery. The pews were placed in one row along the railing however the gallery is not accessible to the public yet because of safety concerns. We are working on this. We also did some general cleanup today.

November 29, 2005 (Tuesday)

A ramp was constructed leading to the door on the east side of the building. This will be our main entrance for now. Concrete sidewalk slabs were moved from the south side of the building and used to build the ramp. They were placed on 2B stones used to build up the base to the appropriate height.

November 30, 2005 (Wednesday)

The lumber that was removed from the building a few days earlier was taken to our storage area. The remainder of the floor was patched today. The trap door covering the north-side cellar steps was completed and the floor is now all repaired.

December 1, 2005 (Thursday)

A railing was installed outside the east door alongside the newly constructed ramp. Sidewalks leading to the east door were repaired with new sidewalk slabs. The railing along the balcony was completed and a railing was installed around the opening for the newly installed stairs on the west side. The railing for the east side still needs to be completed.

December 2, 2005 (Friday)

Today was spent cleaning the inside of the church. Church pews were arranged, screwed to the floor and cleaned in anticipation of the Holiday House Tour on Sunday, December 4. The Elias church is a featured house/building on the tour. The outside was also “spruced up” a little by removing scaffolding and general cleanup.

December 3, 2005 (Saturday)

The day was spent setting a stage up in the church. The purpose is to provide a representation of how the church could accommodate performances and special services or ceremonies. The Garden Club decorated the church for Christmas and temporary lighting was installed to provide light during the dark hours of the house tour.

December 4, 2005 (Sunday)

The Holiday House Tour was today and there was a great turnout of approximately 140 people. The great majority of the patrons were very impressed with what they saw in regard to the Elias Church. The tour was from 1-6pm. There were Elias Church representatives there to give tours and answer questions along with hosts to take tickets and present a log for visitors to sign.

December 6, 2005 (Tuesday)

Christmas lights were strung around the railing on the galleries. The lights provide both decoration and necessary lighting for activities in the church after dusk.

December 7, 2005 (Wednesday)

More temporary lighting was installed in the church to provide illumination for viewing of the structure and for safety.

December 8 2005 (Thursday)

We spent the day working on the east side of the building’s exterior. We wrapped the side with a house wrap to protect if from the elements and to seal off openings in the exterior. The wrap extends about fifteen feet up from the ground. This wrap is temporary and will be removed at an appropriate time when repairs need to be made.

December 9, 2005 (Friday)

We finished up the last of the railing protecting the east side steps. All of our temporary railings are now in place and will prevent any accidental falls. It snowed about 5” last night so we cleared all the walks and the driveway in preparation for the Black Tie performance tomorrow.

December 10, 2005 (Saturday)

God must be smiling! A Christmas tree was erected and last minute decorations were put in place and for the first time since 1857 glorious melodies were heard coming from the Old Elias Church. At 4pm The Black Tie Vocal Group presented a Candlelight Choral Concert in the Old Elias Church, in conjunction with Mifflinburg’s annual Christkindl Market. Approximately one hundred people, who witnessed this historic event, attended the concert. The church is now “opened up”, with the galleries exposed, as it was from 1806 to 1857 and we discovered that the acoustics are magnificent. We can’t help but think back prior to our lifetime of previous efforts that failed to restore the Elias Church. What would Mr. B. Chambers think if he were alive today? He wrote in the Mifflinburg Telegraph in September of 1919, at 83 years of age: “The moral foundation so characteristic of the people of the Old Town (Mifflinburg) and vicinity emanated to a larger extent from that, now desecrated building than from any other like building in the Town. Surely there are hallowed memories clustering around the once sacred edifice that will interpose before further desecration is permitted.” Because of those hallowed memories and those that went before us we have an obligation to make sure that this project succeeds and we are confident that we can make it happen because of the broad support that we are receiving.

Thoughts On 2005

The Elias Church has come alive! Planning for this project was started in February and work began a short time later in April 9, 2005. Our original intent was to restore the church to its 1806 condition and have it available for special church services, tours, weddings, special ceremonies or other miscellaneous activities. During the year our mission changed somewhat as we realized that it would be pointless to have a beautiful, interesting building that people will only come and see one time. We needed a reason for people to come back again and again which would allow the Historic Elias Church to produce enough revenue to sustain itself for many years to come. The idea was born to convert the church into a theater for the performing arts. The Black Tie event on December 10 was a huge success and we believe that this is a small glimpse of the ideas potential.

The building was gutted during the year, the galleries were exposed and the church now stands as a shell of its former, 1806, self but the amazing potential is evident. We also collected a lot of historic items found in the building. Most of the major demolition work is now complete so the building and grounds committee volunteers will be dealing with a lot of smaller but important items and tasks to keep things in order as the project moves forward. In 2006 a lot of planning will take place and eventually skilled professionals will begin the actual restoration of the Elias Church and begin its conversion to a theater. We now plan to take a work hiatus until spring. Our focus during the winter will be administrative in nature: applying for grants and securing the necessary funding for our project.

January 13, 2006 (Friday)

The first event of the year had nothing to do with the building itself. It was a tremendously successful dinner held to inform and promote the Historic Elias Church. It is no secret that we are looking for funds for the project. It was held at Carriage Corner Restaurant in Mifflinburg and attended by 223 people. The turnout far exceeded any and all predictions and shows how much enthusiasm there is for the Elias Church and its conversion to a theater of the arts. Featured speakers included US Representative Don Sherwood and PA Representative Russ Fairchild. Robert Lynch, Chairman of the Elias Church Committee, opened the event with welcoming remarks, a summary of the project to date and also talked about future plans for the church.

Notes From The Winter

During the winter there were several small developments that occurred. The first was an administrative change. Preservation Mifflinburg Inc. transferred ownership of the Elias Church to Mifflinburg Heritage and Revitalization Association. The magnitude of our project has changed greatly since we started and MHRA is a larger organization with ties to the borough so we felt this better suited our needs. We are now a committee under the authority of the MHRA Board of Directors. We are very grateful to PMI for getting “the ball rolling” and saving the Elias Church. Also, the Weirick property on the corner of Green and Fifth Street became available for sale. It was built in 1830. This is where Robert Weirick lived when he owned the Elias church and used it as a barn. This property was deemed to be a valuable asset for the project so we entered into an agreement to purchase it. This property is adjacent to the Elias Church so now we will have a small complex or campus to work with which will enhance the entire project. We entered into a lease to own agreement so we can avoid going into debt so now we will be frantically trying to raise $90,000 to purchase it outright. All this is in addition to the monies that we are trying to raise for the church itself. We know that this project is a huge undertaking for us but we are determined to see it through and succeed.

April 22, 2006 (Saturday)

It rained heavily all morning so the outside work that we had planned was washed out. We cleaned and organized inside the Elias Church and removed carpet and sanded floors inside the Weirick House.

April 27, 2006 (Thursday)

Weirick House - Removed “junk” from the garage of the Weirick House. The garage is full of unwanted household items from the previous occupants. We finished about one-quarter of the job.

April 29, 2006 (Saturday)

Weirick House - Took several trailer loads of the household junk to the borough drop-off site for disposal. About three-quarters of the items have now been removed from the garage. We continued work on sanding the floors in two downstairs rooms. We also worked on cleaning up, mowing, removing bushes and trimming the grounds of the property.

May 6, 2006 (Saturday)

Elias Church – Cleaned and raked the grounds of the church property. Most of the focus in the early spring will be cleaning up debris from the winter and getting the outside of the property in “shape”.

May 11, 2006 (Thursday)

No work today.

May 13, 2006 (Saturday)

We removed an old clothesline post on the Elias Church property. It was not an easy chore since it was anchored in an excess amount of cement about three feet long. We also mowed grass at the Weirick House and gathered debris from the yard. We then loaded the post and all the debris in a trailer and discarded them at our disposal site.

May 18, 2006 (Thursday)

Today we finally got back to work on the Elias Church. We had to take the earlier workdays for general upkeep on the Weirick House and grounds. We have one-half of the building wrapped for protection and today we began work on the south side of the church. We removed the 1920 siding and the original siding up to about six feet high. Now the lower part of the framing is exposed and we discovered that the bottom sill is not in great shape. There is a lot of rot and moisture damage. When Mifflinburg school board bought the building the wall and sill were cut and a door was installed in the center of the south side so repairs relating to this modification will have to be made as well. After the siding was removed we fastened 4x8 sheets of OSB to the framing to protect it. These pieces will be easy to remove when we begin to make the repairs. It began raining so we had to quit. We finished about three-quarters of the south side.

May 20, 2006 (Saturday)

We finished the final part of the south side by removing the siding and covering it with OSB. Then we covered the OSB with house wrap to protect it from the elements. All that is left to do now is to secure the wrap with strips to protect it from the wind.

May 25, 2006 (Thursday)

Today we finished securing the house wrap on the south side it was stripped with siding that had been removed earlier.

May 27, 2006 (Saturday)

Memorial Day Weekend there was no work on the property.

June 1, 2006 (Thursday)

Today was spent cleaning and setting up in preparation for a play that will take place in the church tomorrow. It will be a private affair celebrating Mrs. Marie Purnell-Musser’s 103
rd birthday. Five people watch the rehearsal of the civil war era play written by Karl Purnell. I have to say that it was amazing. An actress was hired from New York City and she is the lone actor in the play. Tomorrow she will act out the official performance so we have to make sure that everything in the church is in place and that all safety concerns are addressed. It is our desire to be very meticulous when anyone is in the building.

June 2, 2006 (Friday)

The performance was amazing! It was a civil war era play written by Karl Purnell and acted out by a professional actress from New York City. It was attended by about thirty people and celebrated the 103
rd birthday of Mrs. Marie Purnell-Musser. What a fitting setting for the event especially since Marie was witness to slightly over one-half of the Elias Church building’s existence.

June 3, 2006 (Saturday)

The west porch foundation and structure was left in place over the winter mostly to study, draw and document the timbers that were found there. We believe that these timbers were parts of the bell tower or structural timbers removed during modifications to the church. We stored these timbers in the Weirick garage across the alley from the church. They will be examined more fully at a later date. A lot of the timbers that we are finding are labeled with a Roman Numeral numbering system so we should be able to determine where they came from or where they were originally located. Today we also set up scaffolding along the west side to begin work on removing siding and sheeting the west side.

June 8, 2006 (Thursday)

Today we began work on the west side of the Elias Church. We are going to give it the same treatment that we gave to the other three sides. All the siding will be removed and the structure will be sheeted with OSB and wrapped with house wrap. We started just under the upstairs windows; about thirteen feet up and removed the first layer of siding. This siding was applied in the 1920’s when the building was made into apartments. We then removed the original 1906 siding that was left and any boards that had been pieced in over the years. There were many modifications to the west side since the church period. We removed all siding material four feet down for the length of the west side and sheeted it with OSB. We will continue this work on another workday.

June 10, 2006 (Saturday)

We acquired a roll-off dumpster from Schnures Disposal Service and filled it with items from the Weirick garage and house. The attics of both the garage and house we filled with household items left by the previous residents. We filled the dumpster and finished the work in about three hours. We also mowed the lawn at the Weirick House.

June 15, 2006 (Thursday)

We resumed work on sheeting the west side today. We accomplished enough work to call this side two-thirds completed. We have a few more boards to remove and then we will wrap it to protect it. We will accomplish that on a workday in the future. During the church period there was one door exactly centered in the west wall. This door was removed at some point although we are not quite sure when. There was also a door in the west side exactly in the southwest corner. That door is no longer there either but there is evidence of it when examining the structure. Two doors were added on the west wall toward the center of the wall and spaced symmetrically. This was done when the church was made into apartments. Each door was used as an entrance and exit for each apartment. Today we removed the southern-most door and jam and sheeted over it. We will leave the other door in place for now to facilitate access to and emergency egress from the building

June 17, 2006 (Saturday)

Today we wrapped the west side of the building. We will secure it with strips next workday. We also had to repair the spouting on the west side of the Weirick garage. The spouting was removed, repaired and will be reinstalled on a later workday.

June 22, 2006 (Thursday)

We finished fastening strips on top of the house wrap, on the west side of the church, to secure it so the wind won’t tear it off. We cleared weeds and overgrown plants from the south side of the Weirick garage. It had been severely neglected and is now overgrown so we removed a majority of the growth and pulled roots out with a four-wheel drive vehicle. We removed some old, damage spouting from the south side of the church. It was in such disrepair that it was actually promoting water damage instead of protecting the building. The entire length of spouting on the south side was removed. We plugged up some holes in the eves of the church that birds were using for nesting then called it “a day”.

June 24, 2006 (Saturday)

We had outside work planned for today and it rained so we called off work for the day.

July 1, 2006 (Saturday)

Today we reinstalled spouting on the west side of the Weirick garage and mowed the house lawn. Barry Bilger, the cemetery caretaker, mows the Elias Church grounds for us. We also continued clearing the area on the south side of the Weirick garage, next to the alley. We finished approximately three-quarters of the entire area. It was infested with weeds, plants and poison ivy. One more day and we should be able to finish the remainder of the area and install lawn fabric to keep the weeds down.

July 6, 2006, (Thursday)

Today we worked on the appearance of the grounds of the Elias Church and the Weirick property. We pulled weeds, mowed grass and cut down and removed a red bud plant or tree that was located about 10 feet from the southwest corner of the Elias Church. We also cleaned some of the spouting on the Weirick house. The church property is starting to look much better because of the landscaping work being done.

July 8, 2006 (Saturday)

Today was trash day. We loaded and disposed of two loads of brush, tree limbs and useless wood and lumber from the property. We still have approximately two more loads to take care of yet.

July 13, 2006 (Thursday)

Evergreen trees surrounding the Weirick house were encroaching on the roof and spouting. We trimmed the offending branches on two trees near in the back of the house and cleaned out some of the spouting. The limbs were piled on the driveway and will be disposed at a later date. We also mowed the grass at the Weirick house and trimmed weeds.

July 15, 2006 (Saturday)

Today we cleaned and organized the galleries of the Elias Church.

July 20, 2006 (Thursday)

We accomplished outside work again today on the grounds of the Elias Church. We removed a large bush that grew up against the foundation of the southeast corner of the church. We also removed the remnants of a clothesline post that was near the northwest corner of the church. We are launching an effort to find, catalog and preserve artifacts on the property. Kim Matttern met with us and advised us on how to proceed with this endeavor. We are interested in discovering where outhouses, wells and other miscellaneous items were on the property as well as discovering artifacts under the soil. We anticipate that we will have to excavate approximately 18” deep. We will begin digging three test pits, 1 meter by 1 meter and 18” deep. We will also search the entire grounds with metal detectors. What we discover will determine how we proceed from here.

July 22, 2006 (Saturday)

This morning heavy rains prevented us from working outside so work was called off for the day. The majority of our work at this time is outside at the church and at the Weirick house.

July 27, 2006 (Thursday)

There are concrete sidewalks surrounding the Elias Church. It is our job to remove them in preparation for the archeological dig. We are preparing the ground so we can begin our search around the foundation. We want to clear that area of all artifacts before the reconstruction begins on the foundation. Today we were swinging sledgehammers and hauling concrete away. We could arrange for heavy equipment to do this job but since we are not pressed for time and we want to keep our costs down until we get our funding in place we decided to do it the “old fashioned way” and use manual labor to break and remove the walks. We took a load of scrap lumber, tree limbs and concrete and removed it from the property.

July 29, 2006 (Saturday)

More of the same today, we spent the day breaking concrete and hauling brush away.

August 3, 2006 (Thursday)

We have about half of the concrete walks removed. We spent today working on that task as well. We should be able to finish in one or two more workdays. We also removed tree limbs and brush from the property today.

August 5, 2006 (Saturday)

More of the same today: breaking and moving concrete walks and porch steps.

August 10, 2006 (Thursday)

Today we mowed the lawn at the Weirick House and continued breaking and removing concrete walks that surround the Elias Church.

August 12, 2006 (Saturday)

No work today. All volunteers were obligated to other endeavors.

August 17, 2006 (Thursday)

Today we finished removing concrete walks. All walks in close proximately to the building have now been removed. They were removed to facilitate the archival digs that will be taking place in the near future. There are many slabs still present on the property but they will be left for the heavy equipment to remove at a later date.

Notes: The majority of the work at this point is general upkeep of the church and the Weirick properties. There is a lot of behind the scenes work going on raising money and planning the project. We hope to begin restoration this fall or next spring. Everything is going to depend on the funding for the project.

August 19, 2006 (Saturday)

Today we located the Elias Church property survey pins with the metal detector and drove PVC pipe down around them so that they are more easily located. We will be using the pins as reference when we layout the grid for our archeological dig. We also cleaned up around the church property.

August 21, 2006 (Monday)

A special work session was called today to survey and lay out a grid on the Elias Church property. A datum point was established near the northwest corner of the church that will be the main point of reference for the grid. This grid will be used to delineate squares that measure one meter by one meter. Each square will have someone assigned to it to excavate, locate and log any and all archives that are found. This exercise will allow us to preserve and display all the history of the Elias Church. Who knows what we will find!

August 24, 2006 (Thursday)

Today we cleaned the first floor of the Elias Church. We swept and cleaned the floors and pews. We also removed a stack of lumber that had been in the building for some time. The lumber was original 1806 siding that we removed from the building and stored inside. The boards were very unique because they possessed a lot of carvings from long ago. They will be examined more closely at a later date. We moved them to the top floor of the Weirick Garage for safekeeping. We also cut and removed weeds from around the Elias Church. We are anticipating some visitors from state agencies next week so we want the premises to look presentable.

August 25, 2006 (Friday)

A leak in the roof damaged the ceiling, walls and floor on the back porch of the Weirick House. Today we removed the drywall, insulation and most of the flooring on the porch to allow it to dry out. The roof will be fixed shortly to rectify the problem before major damage is done.

August 26, 2006 (Saturday)

We took a load of drywall and old insulation that came from the back porch of the Weirick House and disposed of it.

August 31, 2006 (Thursday)

We mowed grass and cut weeds on both the Elias Church property and the Weirick House. We also removed some “special interest” boards that were stored in the Elias garage and relocated them to the Weirick garage. The old garage on the Elias property has some leaks in the roof and we were concerned that some important pieces could become damaged from water.

Monthly Update Submitted to MHRA for October 2006

Elias Church - The interior of the church was cleaned and organized prior to a visit from representatives of two state agencies on August 29. The majority of the work done this month was general upkeep of the building and grounds.

Weirick House - The majority of the work done this month was general upkeep of the building and grounds. The roof over the back porch of the Weirick House developed a leak and it will be repaired in early September. The floors of the living room and dining room will be refinished. They are currently unfinished and in need of a protective coat of polyurethane. This expense will be minimal and will be done by our committee in September.

Archeological Dig -
Kim Mattern is directing an archeological dig on the Elias Church property. On August 2, an organizational meeting with his committee was held in the MHRA boardroom. On August 21, Kim met with volunteers at the Elias Church and began preparations to begin the “dig”. The purpose of the dig is to collect the archives from the historic site. All items that are discovered will be carefully catalogued and preserved. Actual digging will begin in early September.

September 2, 2006 (Saturday)

It was cold and rainy today and washed out our work plans. The area was being deluged with the remnants of Hurricane Ernesto.

September 7, 2006 (Thursday)

No work today.

September 9, 2006 (Saturday)

No work today.

September 14, 2006 (Thursday)

Today we cleaned the church pews and the inside of the building in preparation for Congressman Don Sherwood’s visit on Tuesday, September 19, 2006.

September 16, 2006 (Saturday)

The house wrap that we fastened to the exterior of the building was coming loose in spots. We used the workday to secure all the loose ends so that it will be able to “stand up” to the winter months.

September 19, 2006 (Tuesday)

At 10am this morning United States Congressman Don Sherwood arrived at the Elias Church for a press conference. He announced that we would be receiving $250,000 through the “Preserve America’s Treasures” program. His announcement was greeted with plenty of applause from the 70 attendees. There were many local, state and federal representatives present. Those in attendance included:

Don Sherwood- U.S. Representative
Russ Fairchild – PA Representative
Brent Shelheimer – aide to U.S. Senator Rick Santorum
Arnie Kriner – aide to PA Senator Roger Madigan
William Haas – Union County Commissioner
Preston Boop – Union County Commissioner
Dave Chapman – Mayor of Mifflinburg
Margaret Metzger – Mifflinburg Borough Manager
Jeff Reber – Mifflinburg Bank and Trust
Garry Benfer – Mifflinburg Bank and Trust
Dave Smith – M&T Bank
Sue Gilbert – Swineford Bank
Barry Tomasetti – Superintendent of Mifflinburg Schools
John Bohn – Sun Area Career and Technical Center
Ted Strosser – Preservation Architect
Frank Stroik – Preservation Contractor

The media in attendance were: The Mifflinburg Telegraph, WKOK Radio Sunbury, WMLP Radio Milton, WNEP TV Channel 16, The Williamsport Sun Gazette, The Standard Journal and the The Daily Item.

The event lasted approximately thirty minutes and was very enjoyable and noteworthy. It is an honor for Mifflinburg to have such an event that attracted so many dignitaries and member of the press. This is the third time that Congressman Sherwood has visited Mifflinburg in the past year. He visited the church twice and his other appearance was at the Mifflinburg High School. We really believe in this project and it is evident that we have convinced the Congressman and others that this is a very worthy cause. We are all very excited about continuing the progress on restoring the Historic Elias Church.

The following article appeared in the Mifflinburg Telegraph on Wednesday September 21, 2006.

“Constructed in 1806 as a place of worship for Mifflinburg’s Lutheran and German Reformed congregations, the Elias Church later became a high school, a stable, a storehouse for carriages and a home. It is believed to possibly be the oldest continuous wood frame church in the country.
Tuesday morning, a large crowd of volunteers, reporters and local dignitaries gathered to thank U.S. Congressman Don Sherwood R-10 for his help in obtaining $250,000 in government funding to further the project.
Sherwood is a member of the House Appropriations Committee and was able to secure the grant through the Preserve America’s Treasures program. He told the audience that he hopes to have the money in the county’s hands shortly after January 1, 2007.
The goal is to turn the church into a center for the performing arts, including theatrical performances, concerts, lectures, meetings and other purposes.
The project also hopes to be able to tie the Elias Church, the Buggy Museum and the Gutelius House together and make an afternoon of wonderful education for tourists.
Sherwood visited the Elias Church last January and took time to tour the site and speak with many volunteers that have contributed to the restoration of the building.
Anyone who would like to tour the church is welcome to do so. For more information on the project or making donations contact Robert Lynch at 966-0016 or”

September 21, 2006 (Thursday)

Today we mowed the lawn at the Weirick House and the Elias Church. We also moved tools out of an old shed; that is attached to the Elias Church garage, over to the Weirick House garage. The roof in the small shed is leaking and is in general disrepair. We spent part of the workday cleaning drywall joint compound buckets. We will be using the buckets in conjunction with the “dig” that we are currently planning for.

September 23, 2006 (Saturday)

Today we mowed the southern and western perimeters of the old section of the Elias cemetery. We used a “Super H” tractor with a brush mower mounted on the rear. The perimeter had become overgrown and was encroaching on the cemetery and the tombstones. The majority of the brush was briars and small saplings.

September 28, 2006 (Thursday)

No work today.

September 30, 2006 (Saturday)

No work today.

October 2, 2006 (Monday)

The Weirick House lawn was mowed.

October 5, 2006 (Thursday)

The perimeter of the cemetery, to the south and west of the Elias church, has become overgrown and has encroached on the cemetery itself. We cleared portions of it of brush and small saplings. There is a mausoleum at the southwest corner of the cemetery that was hidden by overgrown trees and weeds. We cleared the area and the burial tomb is visible once again. We received permission from the cemetery association to tidy this area up. We also removed an old tree stump from the Weirick House property. This will make for easier mowing now that we don’t have to trim around this nuisance.

October 7, 2006 (Saturday)

No work today.

October 12, 2006 (Thursday)

No work today.

October 13, 2006 (Friday)

Today we hosted sixth grade students from Lewisburg Middle School. They were visiting historical sites in Union County. The Elias Church was one of their stops. Three groups came by throughout the day and we presented them with the history of the Elias Church.

October 14, 2006 (Saturday)

Cleared more brush from the south side of the cemetery perimeter. We also took a trailer load of scrap and brush and removed them from the property.

October 19, 2006 (Thursday)

No work today.

October 21, 2006 (Saturday)

Today we mowed grass at the Weirick House and trimmed weeds. Some sections of spouting on the Weirick House were in disrepair so those sections were fixed and rehung. We also removed an old basketball hoop and a post that was in the middle of the yard. The post was a railroad tie standing on end. It was always in the way and now it will be easier to mow in that area.

October 26, 2006 (Thursday)

MHRA is preparing for the Christ Kindle Market so we pulled off the Elias Church project today to help prepare huts for the upcoming market.

October 28, 2006 (Saturday)

Same scenario as last Thursday; MHRA is preparing for the Christ Kindle Market so we pulled off the Elias Church project today to help prepare huts for the upcoming market.

October 30, 2006 (Monday)

Today was the closing on the Weirick House. MHRA now legally owns the property and it is officially a part of the Elias Church project. We promptly painted the metal roof on the house. We had a beautiful day to do it. It was about 65 degrees and perfect for painting. We were concerned that we would not have another day this suitable. The roof was in descent shape except for some loose nails and minor rust. We removed the loose nails, secured the roof with screws and painted it with silver roof paint. It is now ready for the harshness of the upcoming winter.

Monthly Update Submitted to MHRA for October 2006

Elias Church Project – Most of the work on the Elias Church this past month was general maintenance and upkeep of the exterior grounds. We are waiting for funds to be released so we can begin the work of reconstruction. We are hopeful that this will happen sometime in the next few months.

Weirick House – We are now the official, legal owners of the Weirick House and it is now an integral part of the Elias Church project. The closing happened on October 30, 2006. Thanks to the generosity Mifflinburg Bank and Trust, West Milton State Bank, Swineford Bank and MHRA. These banks provided us interest free loans to purchase the property and MHRA funded the remainder. Through grants committed to us we will be paying off these loans within the next twelve to eighteen months. We are of the mindset to make sure that the house is in the proper condition to survive the winter so the biggest project accomplished this past month was the repair and painting of the roof on the house. Other work done this month was general upkeep of the building and grounds.

November 6, 2006 (Monday)

Today we did work on the heating system of the Weirick House. We replaced bleeder valves on the baseboard heating system in anticipation of starting the furnace and getting heat in the house for the winter.

November 7, 2006 (Tuesday)

H.L. Klose and Sons started the furnace and the house has heat again.

November 11, 2006 (Saturday)

Work on the Weirick House dominated the workday. The back porch roof was patched because it had developed several leaks. The roof will be replaced this fall or in the early spring. We also turned the water off to the clothes washer. The hook up is on the back porch and the porch is not insulated. This will prevent the water in the pipes from freezing and causing damage to the system.

November 14, 2006 (Tuesday)

We have an organ stored in the former Methodist Church at 325 Market Street. The building is being sold so we had to remove it today. We removed all the speakers, pedals and miscellaneous parts but left the main unit there. It is very heavy and we don’t have a good place to keep it. The Providence Reformed Church, who is buying the building, gave us permission to keep the main unit there until we need it or until they need it removed.

November 21, 2006 (Tuesday)

The timbers that supported the porch on the west side of the Elias Church were stored in the Weirick garage. We needed more room to store our equipment in the garage so we freed up space by taking the timbers to our storage area. The garage is now more useful and we can access our equipment much more easily.

November 23, 2006 (Thursday)

Thanksgiving Day 2006! No work today.

November 27, 2006 (Monday)

Today we cleaned and organized the Weirick Garage. We also disposed of a trailer load of junk. One of the windows in the garage door was broken so it was repaired.

Monthly Update Submitted to MHRA for November 2006

Elias Church Project – The majority of the work on the Elias Church this past month was general maintenance and upkeep of the exterior grounds. We are waiting for funds to be released so we can begin the work of reconstruction. There are indications from DCED that the funds may be released to us in the month of December. If that turns out to be the case we will begin the process of putting detailed plans on paper. We anticipate being able to start the actual work on the building before all the planning is completed.

Weircik House – The heating system was repaired and the furnace was turned on. We now have heat and hot water in the house. This was important in order to stabilize the condition of the house and to keep it from deteriorating. The roof over the back porch was leaking slightly and those leaks were repaired. The water for the clothes washer hookup was turned off to prevent the pipes from freezing. It is located on the back porch, which is not heated. Plans are being made for a tenant to occupy the house to care for it. The garage was cleaned and organized.

Miscellaneous - We have an organ stored in the church at 325 Market Street. The building was recently sold so we had to remove it earlier this month. We removed all the speakers, pedals and miscellaneous parts and stored them in the Weirick garage, but left the main unit there. It is very large and heavy and we don’t have a good place to keep it. Steve Payson who is the pastor of the Providence Reformed Church, who bought the building, gave us permission to keep the main unit there until we need it or until they need it removed.

December 1, 2006 (Friday)

We are planning an archeological dig. Today we installed a datum point in the ground near the northwest corner of the church. The datum point is a permanent marker that all measurements and plotting will be referenced to. The marker was manufactured out of brass and then it was embedded in about 15” of concrete that was poured in a hole in the ground.

December 4, 2006 (Monday)

We replaced a faulty shutoff valve in the water system in the Weirick House. A new valve was installed allowing us to shut off and drain the water to the external water faucet. This is necessary so that freezing temperatures do not cause damage the pipes.

December 9, 2006 (Saturday)

We had some very windy days of late and some of the house wrap we installed on the Elias Church was coming loose. Today we refastened all the loose areas. In conjunction with the annual Christkindl Market the Black Tie vocal group sang to a packed house in the Elias Church. The performance was the second in as many years and took place at 4pm. The acoustics of the building are magnificent and once again the group filled the church with wonderful holiday music. Because of the history of this wonderful church you instantly feel a connection with those individuals who might have sat in this same building 200 years ago and who listened to the very same music. It is not often that we can share a common experience with those who went before us but that is exactly what took place and every spectator sensed the history and the hallowedness of the Elias Church.

December 15, 2006 (Friday)

The Weirick House kitchen faucet was replaced because the existing one was not functioning properly.

December 18, 2006 (Monday)

Today we worked on the electrical system repairing some of the lights, switches that were defective or not working properly.

December 23, 2006 (Saturday)

We are in the process of sanding and refinishing the floors in the Weirick House. Today we sanded, cleaned and sanded some more preparing the floors for refinishing. We also replaced a defective switch in the attic stairway.

Monthly Update Submitted to MHRA for December 2006

Elias Church Project – We installed a datum point in the ground near the northwest corner of the church. The datum point is a permanent marker that all measurements will be referenced to relating to any archeological plotting. Now that all the planning and plotting are done we hope to begin digging as soon as the ground thaws in the spring. There is still no indication as to when we can begin planning and construction. All we can tell you is, “hopefully soon.”

On December 9, 2006 in conjunction with the annual Christkindl Market the Black Tie vocal group sang to a packed house in the Elias Church. The performance was the second in as many years and took place at 4pm. The acoustics of the building are magnificent and once again the group filled the church with wonderful holiday music. Because of the history of this magnificent church you instantly feel a connection with those individuals who might have sat in this same building 200 years ago and who might have listened to some of the very same Christmas hymns as we heard today. It is not often that we can share a common experience with those who went before us but that is exactly what took place and every spectator could sense the hallowed history and of the Elias Church.

Weircik House – We spent most of the month fixing defects in the electrical system and the water system. Mark Weaver also began refinishing the wooden plank floors in two rooms downstairs and one room upstairs. The floors that are finished look fantastic! It is amazing how those 175 year-old floors came back to life. Mark has agreed to be the caretaker of MHRA properties and signed the agreement to do so. He will occupy the property as soon as the floors are done and the house is livable.
April 5, 2007 (Thursday)

We spent the morning raking and cleaning up debris around the Elias Church.

We raked and gathered debris around the Weirick House. We loaded it on a trailer along with some construction scraps from the winter and disposed of it.

We spent the morning pulling weeds and general grounds keeping around the church and the Weirick House.

Senator Roger Madigan came to Mifflinburg to present a check to us for $80,000. The money will be used to reimburse the banks (Mifflinburg Bank and Trust, West Milton State Bank, and the Swineford Bank) that helped us purchase the property last fall. A press conference was held at 3:30 pm on the western porch of the Weirick House. Before introducing the Senator, Bob Lynch provided some historical background of the Weirick House, the church and the area surrounding the properties. He also thanked those in attendance for their support specifically: Senator Roger Madigan, Arnie Kriner – the senators aide, John Showers – Union County Commissioner, Bill Haas – Union County Commissioner, Preston Boop – Union County Commissioner, Dave Gutelius – Mayor of Mifflinburg, Bob Brouse – Mifflinburg Borough Council, Margaret Metzger – Borough Manager, Steve Benner – Borough Project Manager, Jeff Kapsar and Garry Benfer – Mifflinburg Bank and Trust and Kim Sauers – Mifflinburg High School. After introduction the Senator spoke for about 15 minutes then presented a check for $80,000 to Becky Hagenbaugh – MHRA Director, Larry Mitchell – MHRA President and Bob Lynch – Elias Church Committee Chairman. Before handing over the check, Sen. Madigan said: "I'm really impressed by what they're doing here in enhancing Mifflinburg as a place to come, and come back to. This purchase is crucial to developing the historic district into a tourism destination and attracting more people to this area. It will promote economic development and showcase our historic areas. But, even more than that, this is our heritage. And we don't want to lose it." There were approximately 30 people in attendance on this slightly chilly afternoon.

Notes at the beginning of 2007

Most of the first part of the year was devoted to obtaining finances and administrative activities regarding the Elias Church. We are seeking grants from the state and the process moves very slowly. It has been a frustrating beginning to the year since nothing constructive has happened with the Elias Church for the first five months. We are anticipating a $400,000 grant from PA DCED. When we get that things will start moving again. Until then there is not much that we can do except persevere and try to keep some kind of momentum for the project.

June 9, 2007 (Saturday)

We started our work parties again today for the first time in 2007. Up to this point small groups of volunteers have been making sure that the church is tended to as necessary. The main focus of our efforts for now will be general upkeep and the archeological dig. Today we raked debris, removed weeds and mowed the lawn of the Elias Church.

June 14, 2007 (Thursday)

Today we used a transit to stake out one-meter grids on the Elias Church property. All grid lines are referenced to a datum point that we installed near the northwest corner of the church. All measurements will be referenced to this point also. This is so that all artifacts and information collected can be reconstructed in a lab.

June 16, 2007 (Saturday)

Today we raked the yard to the west of the church. It was littered with sticks that were blown off the two trees in the yard. We also used line paint to mark off the one-meter grids. All squares along the foundation on the north side of the church are now marked and ready for digging. Next week we will build and gather the equipment necessary for proceeding with the dig.

June 21, 2007 (Thursday)

We spent the day building sifters. They will be used to screen the dirt in search of artifacts as part of the archeological dig. We built four units which when added to the one we already have gives us a total of five. That will allow us to set up five “dig stations”. They are ninety percent completed and we will finish them on Saturday.

June 23, 2007 (Saturday)

Today we finished the sifters and set up to begin digging. We started a test pit to test our procedures and tools. Everything went very well and we now have a good understanding what the process will be to retrieve the artifacts on the Elias Church property. In the small amount of ground that we searched we found nails, large spikes, glass, and bricks.

June 25, 2007 (Monday)

Today we received a check from the PA Treasury. It was a fulfillment of a grant for $400,000. The money was disbursed to the county commissioners who will oversee the distribution of the monies during the reconstruction of the church. We are very excited about this event because it will allow us to move forward with our efforts. The architect estimates that we could start actual work on the church in about two months. That is the time that will be required to draw plans, get permits, etc. We should see work starting in August. That will be a great sight!

July 19, 2007 (Thursday)

Today we began dismantling the chimney on the Weirick House. We removed about one half of the chimney and hauled all the debris away. It is in bad need of repair. The prudent thing to do is to replace the entire chimney from scratch. The current chimney is made out of cinder blocks, which are deteriorating, and there is no flue liner. In order to have a safer and more efficient chimney we must replace the entire chimney.

July 21, 2007 (Saturday)

Today we dismantled the remainder of the chimney on the Weirick House. That was from the porch ceiling down to the footer. To get at the footer we had to remove some floorboards on the porch. They will be replaced when the job is complete. We then removed the old footer which was inadequate and not to code and dug the trench for a new footer. We hauled the cinder blocks away along with some other debris and called it a day. We intend to pour the footer on Monday.

The Boy Scouts were here today working on the archeological dig. They found some evidence of footer or suspected footer near where the steps could have been on the north side of the Church. They did not expose it fully yet so we will discover more on a later dig.

July 23, 2007 (Monday)

We poured the footer for the Weirick House chimney and purchased all the materials for the new chimney and brought them to the job site. We will be ready to start laying chimney block tomorrow.

July 24, 2007 (Tuesday)

Today we laid approximately 29 blocks to a height of about 20 feet high. We lined the chimney block with a flue liner. The previous chimney did not have a flue liner.

July 25, 2007 (Wednesday)

Today we laid the reminder of the chimney block and completed the chimney. We now have a much safer and more efficient chimney on the Weirick House.

July 26, 2007 (Thursday)

Today we cleaned up all the debris from the work site at the Weirick House. We also finished installing the flashing around the chimney.

July 28, 2007 (Saturday)
We returned some materials to Mifflinburg Lumber that we did not use in the chimney project. We took a load of junk and debris off the Weirick House property and disposed of it. We also pulled weeds and cleaned up the lawn.
Monthly Update Submitted to MHRA for August 2007

Elias Church Project – This is the first report since December of 2006. All the “hands on” work in the current year has been related to the upkeep and preservation of the building and grounds. Of course there has been a lot of administrative work going on behind the scenes. We have not yet begun reconstruction to bring the church “back to life”. We are still working through the bureaucratic channels making sure that everything in order so we can begin phase one of our project. We already have the funds for the first phase. We are anticipating that we will be able to begin work on the church in the early part of next year. The actual construction should take about six months to complete so we should be looking at a restored “Historic Elias Church” sometime in 2008. We are all very excited about this prospect. We are also planning some kind of capital campaign as soon as work begins on the church. In early summer we began the archeological dig at the church. We have not found the “mother-lode” yet but unearthing history is very interesting. Logan Kuba and the Boy Scouts have been a big help with this project. We also purchased a snow blower and a Cub Cadet riding-mower was anonymously donated for the “good of the project.”

Weirick House – In April MHRA purchased the Weirick House. The purchase was made possible because of a grant from PA Senator Roger Madigan. In July of this summer we replaced the chimney on the Weirick House. It was done for less than $50 with donated materials and volunteer labor under the guidance of a professional mason. We now have an efficient and safe chimney. Last fall the roof was painted with volunteer labor and donated materials. All other work during the spring and summer was intended for the general upkeep of the property. Below in an account of Senator Madigan’s visit to Mifflinburg:

[Senator Roger Madigan came to Mifflinburg to present a check to us for $80,000. The money will be used to reimburse the banks (Mifflinburg Bank and Trust, West Milton State Bank, and the Swineford Bank) that helped us purchase the property last fall. A press conference was held at 3:30 pm on the western porch of the Weirick House. Before introducing the Senator, Bob Lynch provided some historical background of the Weirick House, the church and the area surrounding the properties. He also thanked those in attendance for their support specifically: Senator Roger Madigan, Arnie Kriner – the senators aide, John Showers – Union County Commissioner, Bill Haas – Union County Commissioner, Preston Boop – Union County Commissioner, Dave Gutelius – Mayor of Mifflinburg, Bob Brouse – Mifflinburg Borough Council, Margaret Metzger – Borough Manager, Steve Benner – Borough Project Manager, Jeff Kapsar and Garry Benfer – Mifflinburg Bank and Trust and Kim Sauers – Mifflinburg High School. After the introduction the Senator spoke for about 15 minutes then presented a check for $80,000 to Becky Hagenbaugh – MHRA Director, Larry Mitchell – MHRA President and Bob Lynch – Elias Church Committee Chairman. Before handing over the check, Sen. Madigan said: "I'm really impressed by what they're doing here in enhancing Mifflinburg as a place to come, and come back to. This purchase is crucial to developing the historic district into a tourism destination and attracting more people to this area. It will promote economic development and showcase our historic areas. But, even more than that, this is our heritage. And we don't want to lose it." There were approximately 30 people in attendance on this slightly chilly afternoon.

Monthly Update for November 2007

This month we received $30,000 from the state through our representative Russ Fairchild. The money is designated for the Weirick House, is needed and will be put to good use.

Weirick House - In November the heating system was replaced in the Weirick House. The old furnace was quite old and inefficient and was in dire need of being replaced. We hope to save approximately 50% on our heating costs. We also replaced the oil tank, which is in the basement. The unit was designed so that it can handle any additional heating requirements we may have in the future. Unfortunately we now have to consider adding a water softener to prevent the heating coils in the new furnace from being damaged because of “hard” water.

Monthly Update for December 2007

Only periodic updates appeared in this journal for most of the year since actual work on the church has been on an as needed basis for most of the year. This will continue to be the case until work actually begins again in earnest.

Elisa Church – Most of the month was spent readying for Mifflinburg’s annual Christkindl Market. The church was beautifully decorated with Christmas tree and other trimmings. A beautiful 10’ tree was placed in the Southeast corner of the church. It was decorated with handmade gingerbread men, popcorn strings and lights. The railing surrounding the gallery on all three sides was adorned with garland, lights and accentuated with red bows. Both sets of stair railings were decorated with the same pattern as the gallery railings. The two posts that temporarily support the “cut off” beams (the ones oriented from north to south) were also wrapped in “greens”. The Elias Church was glorious. It was against this backdrop that nineteen members of Black Tie (a local singing group) performed on Saturday, December 8 at 4pm. The performance lasted about 45 minutes and there were approximately 50 people in attendance. The building was unheated but nobody seemed to mind. The group sang Christmas hymns appropriate for the history and dignity of the Elias church. Several of the songs could have been sung at sometime in the church’s history. It was if we were all transported back in time. It was a very spiritual performance. It was as if the Elias Church’s hallowed walls were speaking to us that day. We also offered tours of the church throughout the three-day market. The tours consisted of a brief description of the building and its history.

During the month we also place a fundraising sign on the church. The sign is intended to document our progress in raising money to fund the project. Our goal is to raise 1.2 million and to date we have approximately $430,000. The sign is actually a window built on plywood and attached to the building. As money comes in the window is lowered and a picture of the finished church is slowly revealed. When we reach our fundraising goal the entire picture will be finally revealed.

Yearly Update for 2008

The journal entry for 2008 is in the form of a yearly update because most of the work and effort this year was administrative in nature. Therefore the year will be summarized in this entry. Most of the physical work that took place on the Elias Church and Weirick House in 2008 was general maintenance and upkeep. We completed a few projects that will be documented here. The majority of the work on the Elias Church itself involved general upkeep of the external grounds along with cleaning of the interior of the church.

Weirick House: - The kitchen was remodeled, the ceiling was replaced and the room was rewired. The heat was split into two zones. A water softener was installed. We felt this was necessary to protect the components of the new furnace and associated plumbing. During late summer we dismantled a back room attached to the Weirick House with the intention of rebuilding it and adding two feet to the south end. This back room was in general disrepair. After this room was removed we dug and poured footers, laid a block foundation and poured a concrete floor. This was the status of this project when 2008 came to a close. The room will be rebuilt after the winter. In late September volunteers began painting the exterior of the Weirick House. It took us about a month-and-a-half working a few mornings a week. We finished most of the painting before the cold weather set in. All that is left to paint are a few windows. We were not able to paint the garage because the weather became unfavorable so that is another project that we will finish after the winter.

The United Church of Christ held a worship service in the Elias Church. The service was part of an annual celebration to remember the church’s heritage and its roots in the Elias church. The UCC is a descendent of the German Reformed Church, which occupied the building along with the Lutheran Church in 1806. The Reverend Susan Gabbard officiated the candlelight service which, included hymns, prayers and “the message.” It was a very moving and spiritual experience.

In early April we planned and launched a “silent fundraising campaign. ” Our intention is to privately contact potential donors in an attempt to raise the remaining balance required to fully fund the Elias Church project. As of December we are finding it difficult to generate substantial donations. The lack of progress on the project and a severe downturn in the US economy are making our job more challenging. We are hopeful that when we start reconstruction we will be able to gain some fundraising momentum.

On April 18, 2008 there was a meeting with the Elias Church Executive Committee, Union County Officials and the PA Department of Community Economic Development for the purpose of clarifying our responsibilities regarding use and disbursement of the $400,000 DCED grant that we received in June of 2007. It was a productive meeting where a lot of misconceptions and miscommunications were cleared up. Here is the bottom line from DCED: The Original proposal, which we submitted to DCED, when we applied for this grant, was for a project cost of 1.2 million. That is what they used to award our grant. Since we don’t have enough funds for the entire project they proposed that we submit a modification to our application and request to break the project into phases (probably three). Ted estimated the first phase would come to a cost of about $600,000. This is just for the Elias Church itself. DCED only requires a 10% match, which we easily have already. (The approval process for a request to break the project into phases should only take a few days once Melissa Williams receives it). The county is concerned about being on the hook for the money if the project “falls through”. This is a very understandable concern. One of the most important things that we came to understand during the meeting was that there are ways available to us now in which we can guarantee the money that hopefully will satisfy the requirements of phase one and the County. Some of these methods will be included in the notes following this summary. DCED does not require that we have all the money “up front” in a bank account to begin drawing down on the $400,000 but the County is the administrator of the monies and can disburse it as they see fit and according to their comfort level. If we can alleviate the county’s concerns by showing them that they will not be “on the hook” for the money in any way we should be able to start drawing on the grant. We are confident and excited because we learned that MHRA and the Elias Committee could insure these monies via some very low-risk methods. This is all in addition to our “quiet” capital campaign currently underway and showing some work on the church will definitely help our private fundraising efforts.

On Friday, September 26, 2008 we hosted three Linntown Elementary School Groups. We gave them a short tour and presentation about the history and future of the Elias Church.

During the year we also resubmitted an application for a $100,000 Keystone Historic Preservation Grant awarded by PHMC (PA Historic Museum Commission) that we were denied last year. We were told to apply again so we are. We were told that the turnaround for our application will be very quick and they encouraged us to believe that we would receive the funds next issue, which will be toward the end of 2008. We are still waiting for this decision. It is now apparent that the decision will come in early 2009.

On December 13, 2008 in conjunction with the Christkindel Market the Black Tie vocal group performed in the Elias Church for the fourth year in a row. It is becoming a holiday tradition at the Elias Church to hear the group sing. They performed in front of approximately 70 people and sang a variety of hymns including some that would have been heard in this very building in 1807. It was a moving experience that tended to take one “back in time.” The church was decorated for the Christmas season with a tree, handmade red bows, candles and holiday lights. The tree was decorated with lights, handmade gingerbread men and a cranberry string. The church looked spectacular and the atmosphere was appropriate even in its rough condition.

Monthly Update for January 2009

On January 7, 2009 we were finally awarded a Keystone Historic Preservation Grant for $90,000. This was tempered somewhat when we got word last week that all awarded grants were reduced by approximately 14%. We think that leaves us with somewhere between $75,000 and $78,000 which is still a substantial amount of money. Ted has the plans just about complete and we will soon send the project out to bid. Ted thinks that the actual work should take about four to six months to restore the church. Work could begin in the spring.

Monthly Update for February 2009

The grant that we received from the PHMC will be $77,400. They will give us the funds after they approve the plans for our project. We are in the process of sending all the necessary paperwork and plans for approval. We think that we should be able to present the project for bids in March or April. It is feasible that we could be done with phase 1 before the end of 2009. Phase 1 of the project will restore the church to a useable state but will not include systems and utilities (i.e. heat, electrical, etc). It will not include the construction of restrooms where the Elias garage now stands either. The Elias Garage (restrooms, office and storage) will be done with donated labor, supplies and possibly in partnership with SUN Tech. The phase 1 budget will be approximately $450,000.

Monthly Update for March and April 2009

We cleaned out the Weirick garage. We moved lumber from the garage to our storage area. We also cleaned out two rooms in the garage because MHRA needed storage space. Half of the garage now houses lawn and garden equipment that we acquired over the course of the project and the other half will be used by MHRA for some of their storage needs. These two months also include various projects of general upkeep and maintenance of the buildings and grounds.

Overview of the Elias Church Project as of April 30. 2009

In the latter part of 2004 rumors were circulating that the “Old Elias Church”, which was built in 1806 and used as church until 1857, was going to be sold on Ebay and razed so that its massive timbers could be confiscated. This generated grave concerns that a vital part of Mifflinburg’s history could be lost forever and in turn forced a small group of people into an endeavor to save the structure. Hence the Elias Church Committee was formed. The Mifflinburg Bank and Trust, Co. was the first entity to “step up to the plate”. It bought the building and donated it to the effort. The building is now owned and operated by The Mifflinburg Heritage and Revitalization Association. Over the course of the project to date we have had between 75 to 100 people working on the project in one way or another. The volunteers have been from young to old. An archeological dig was organized and conducted by a local Boy Scout for an Eagle Scout project. Groups of school kids have come for a tour every year since the committee obtained the building. There have been performances, special event church services and regular tours held there. We have had to turn down many requests to use the building because it is not ready for full-scale operation yet. The building will be used for performances, weddings, funerals, special services, meetings, etc. This will provide income to operate and maintain the building and grounds. Our purpose is not just to restore a historic building but also to have a vital, ongoing concern that will provide some much needed economic activity for our community, area and region. Seeing the building in its former grandeur will be “icing on the cake.”

To date we have received donations of approximately $780,000. This includes the costs of acquiring the properties, equipment and furnishings as well as monies used for operating expenses. We have approximately $480,000 in cash available against our total project cost of $1,200,000. We are going to start phase I of the project very soon and double our efforts to raise the remaining funds to implement our plans. We are under a deadline to use the monies received by DCED by June of 2010 so time is of the essence.

Since 1857 there have been several efforts to save the Elias Church and unfortunately all have failed. We are motivated to succeed and realize that we are also “carrying the mantle” representing those who went before us. While lamenting about the state of the Elias Church in 1919, Mr. B. Chambers wrote in the Mifflinburg Telegraph, “Surely there are hollowed memories clustering around the once sacred edifice that will interpose before further desecration is permitted.” We hope to make Mr. Chambers proud.

Monthly Update for May 2009

On May 9
th we had the first official work party of the year. All the work done today was on the grounds of the Weirick House. We dug a mulch bed around the house and driveway. We also broke up some concrete slabs that were left over from the demolition of the back room last fall. We also mowed and weeded the grounds. The property looks very good.

Finally some great news! After completing all the paperwork involved with the grants that we received and after getting all the proper approvals we are finally ready for the project to “go out to bid.” The following add appeared in the newspapers on May 20, 24 and 26. There is a job conference or pre-bid meeting at the Elias church on May 29, at 9am. The bids will them open at the Union County Government Center on June 12 at 3pm. This is an exciting time for all of us.