Monday, January 28, 2013

Resurrection in Burlington

Photos (except one of the ruins) taken from the congregation's Web site.
I've written here twice before about the phoenix-like rise from the ashes of Burlington's wonderful old First United Methodist Church, gutted by an arson fire on April 29, 2007.

The photo (above, lifted from the church Web site) shows how the church looks today as restoration nears completion. My photo from October of 2007 (below), shows how it looked then, six months after the fire.

When I visited Burlington during 2007, only that shell --- which many had feared shortly after the blaze would collapse --- was standing and members of the congregation had just voted to spend more than $300,000 to stabilize them as the debate about how to proceed continued.

The congregation employed the Des Moines-based architectural firm of Herbert Lewis Kruse Blunck (HLKB) to plan a new church on property elsewhere in the city --- and a plan for rebuilding within the surviving walls. Kirk Blunck, now of Knowles Blunck (KB) Architecture and lead planner for the Hotel Charitone project, was a major player in that process.

During 2009, the congregation voted narrowly (by five votes) to use roughly $8 million in insurance plus other funds to rebuild within the jasper granite walls of the old building. I wrote again about the project on June 1, 2011, just as reconstruction was beginning.

Also during 2009, the congregation voted to purchase a vacant four-story former department store known as the Stoermers or Boesch building across the alley south of the church to serve both the congregation and the community.

As the other photos here --- also lifted from the church Web site --- show, completion now is near. Stained glass has been replicated (only scraps preserved in small blocked windows had survived) and the sanctuary rebuilt as nearly as practical to original specifications. Even the original pew design was honored. A new pipe organ has been built and is being installed. And it won't be long now before the Burlington congregation is able to return to its old home.

This is an project reflecting the congregation's faith on a variety of fronts, including the future of downtown Burlington. As always, the congregation's Web site is the best place to follow progress of the project. Click on "The Fire" or "Construction" for more information and photographs.

1 comment:

Bespoke Pew Designs said...

Its great seeing pews being restored and modernised.