Dec. 18 Ribbon-Cutting.
Dec. 10. At last, the new elevator is in place and running smoothly. Colin Clark, a worker for the subcontractor Eastern Elevator in Winchester, tested it recently and said it works great. Soon it will get an official safety inspection.
On Sunday, Dec. 18, we’re planning a celebration after the 8 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. services. Lemonade, snacks, fellowship, free elevator rides!
The thing is impressive, a commercial-size Canton Elevator out of Ohio. It moves gracefully at 40 feet per minute — slower than the 100 ft./min. in high-rises but a lot faster than our previous elevator. The outdoor entrance serves those coming from the parking lot in back through a new vestibule, no steps or ramp involved. Hundreds of tiny laser lights keep the doors from closing on the inattentive.
There are two opposing doors, of course. The rest of the inside cladding is wood panel and brushed stainless steel. Hidden inside the operating casing is the colorful spaghetti of high-tech wiring. We’ll need to put a legend beside the five buttons describing what is on each level.
This big, necessary improvement is the first item in our Capital Campaign being launched this month. The $500,000 cost has been covered in part by loans and from our endowment, and the Vestry would like to pay these back as soon as we can.
UPDATE: Nielsen, the contractor, began work on the exterior entrance on Nov. 7 and expected to put in masonry block around the frames by the following week. This means the remaining paint, flooring and ceilings should be completed on or around Dec. 1.
It took the Nielsen Builders crew longer than expected because, as they discovered drilling through the walls, the Parish Hall was built like a fortress. That shouldn’t be surprising because it was designed by the famous Virginia preservationist architect Milton L. Grigg. For us, this means we get to count this structure of the late-Eisenhower era as historical. Even though it was completed in 1959, being a Milton Grigg work helps it qualify for historic-preservation tax credits (if we can bundle the Parish House work with other planned projects such as upgrading the Undercroft). Historic-preservation tax credits can save us, possibly, more than $100,000 – if we raise many times that in a Capital Campaign (but that’s a subject for later).
For now, we have already committed to one big capital project that everybody seems to agree on – a new elevator. The contractor says it should be ready by the end of October.
This is a beautiful new symbol of our being a welcoming church. Long-time parishioners will remember how the old elevator was dedicated on Ascension Day (the Brits call it a “lift,” after all) – April 24, 1994, as the bronze plaque on the bridge says. The plaque on the bridge hails the old elevator as a “Universally Accessible Entryway. . . Dedicated to the Glory of A Beneficent God By The Rt. Rev. A. Heath Light, D.D., Bishop of Southwest Virginia.”
That old elevator died last year, and the Vestry was left with no choice but to replace it. The installation of a much larger, commercial-sized elevator that stops on five levels, with vestibules for entering, required extensive reworking of the Parish House. The contractor has closed up the outdoor entrance at the top steps and added a new outdoor entrance facing the parking lot. With so much reconfiguring of the Parish House, it made sense economically to do all of the renovation that had been planned for the building, with new office space and a beautiful new College Ministry room on the top floor. That new room is already in use.
Altogether, this Parish House work costs about $600,000 (of which $100,000 is for office and college room renovation, the rest for the elevator). That’s an expense the Vestry is covering with the combination of a recent gift to the church and a loan from our endowment and from a bank. Until we pay back the loan, the gap in our endowment is costing us about $20,000 a year. The clock is ticking.
The Parish House renovation and elevator are two out of four major capital projects that will require a Capital Campaign. Since the work on the Parish House has begun – indeed, is almost complete – we are moving ahead on plans for this Capital Campaign. Stay tuned!