On Monday morning, May 3, 2021, the next step in our Sacred Space journey began with the arrival of a CAT336 excavator. After weeks of carefully separating utilities and building structures it was time to begin major demolition activity. It is easy to think of demolition as simply knocking down buildings. But in the context of historical renovation, with three sides of the sanctuary attached to existing structures, the work at times was necessarily deliberate and exacting.
After a final pass through the building to assure “all systems were go”, the flag was lowered and the flag pole was carefully removed. At exactly 10:00 a.m., under drizzly skies, the excavator began it’s work on the west side of the sanctuary, punching through the roof and bringing down the first of the red brick walls.
The excavator’s goal was to knock the building in on itself, filling the entire lower level with debris. This allowed the excavator to drive into the lower level, on top of the debris, which was very beneficial. First, this compacted the material for efficient, subsequent loading and removal. And second, it provided the excavator a safe, central path to reach the outside perimeter of the demolition area.
From the west wall, the remaining steeple tower was pulled back into the basement along with the porch and front doors, then the east sanctuary wall and front office, and finally the north end of the sanctuary — the old chancel / altar area. Eventually the entire sanctuary had been carefully pulled into the lower level. By the end of the first day it was hard to even discern where the basement walls began and ended. The entire basement was full of “church”.
Before the day ended, temporary plastic covering was fixed in place to protect the existing building from the elements. This temporary protection will be enhanced, when safe, to provide better building protection over the summer.
The debris is being roughly sorted into three piles based on the value of the material and how it would be trucked off-site. One pile for steel, one pile for block/brick and one pile for lumber. Large trucks will file through the circle drive (beginning Tuesday, May 4) to be loaded by the excavator, after which they will deliver their load to the recycling processor, where appropriate. After the building debris is taken off-site, excavation of the remaining sanctuary and columbarium foundations will occur. This concrete will also be crushed and recycled.
**** Please be extra careful to avoid the circle drive construction area during this phase of work ****