Christ Church Looks Back: Maintenance of Church Facilities

Christ Church Looks Back: Maintenance of Church Facilities
By Joseph Tomberlin
Posted June 28, 2013

Joseph Tomberlin

The Minutes of the Vestry meeting of July 10, 1959, contain the following entry: “Mr. [Blake] Ellis offered his services free in planning [the] redoing [of] church property provided that a major portion of this work be started no later than Jan. first next—if not started by then his charge will be the usual 10 per cent.” As generous as the offer was, it was untimely because Christ Church faced at that moment far more critical problems than “planning redoing church property.” As noted in earlier articles in this series, at the end of 1958, Christ Church had purchased the house at 103 East College Street that became Stuart Hall and now contains parish offices. The original reason for the acquisition, however, was to provide new space for the Sunday School program and for a kindergarten. It was unfortunate that with the new property came some complications.

Vestry Minutes from October 9, 1959, and November 9, 1959, meetings include considerable information about the physical plant issues at hand. Not for the first time, the Church and the Parish Hall both needed “termite treatment.” The previous occasion, as recounted in the August 2009 Vineyard, was in 1950-1951, when the Church was still quite new. Then, an inspection by Orkin revealed “widespread [termite] infestation” especially around the door to the original kitchen in the present-day south wing of the sanctuary, and the damage was heavy enough to require repairs. Vestry took fourteen months to deal with treatment against termites and to make repairs. In ensuing years, Vestry had to grapple with other termite infestations, so the 1959 troubles simply constituted another episode in a continuing story. In addition to the foregoing, Vestry learned that “a great deal of work is going to be necessary on the College Street house.” The term “a great deal of work” included providing a new heating system, significant repairs to the porch, and a paint job.” Moreover, the “heater for [the] church furnace” needed repairs and the thermostats had to be replaced. Also, the interior of the Rectory on West North Street had not been repainted in “at least 6 ½ years,” the period that Fr. Kippenbrock and his family had lived there. Christ Church, at the time, did not have money to cope with the immediate difficulties, so they simply dragged on, unsolved, for many months afterward. Consequently, renovating or updating the Church was not a concern that received a high priority at the moment.

While the existing repair and renewal needs lingered on Christ Church’s agenda, a group of volunteers dealt with one aspect of improving the physical plant. A called session of the Vestry convened on January 13, 1960, “to obtain endorsement of Vestry for renovation of kitchen. The entire renovation is to be taken care of by a group —the Macks, Roddys, Kafoures, Robinsons, Newhams, and possibly others.” Having obtained approval of their voluntary undertaking, the participants proceeded, as described in a letter of February 5, 1960, from Robert G. Macks to the Rector, Fr. Kippenbrock.

Macks explained that he and his wife, Bridget, “had originally thought to take over the deal by ourselves, but it began to run into considerably more expense than we had thought.” As he wrote, “a number of our good parishioners have been kind enough to rally to our assistance and that of the Church.” Specifically, he had received donations totaling $90.00 from six members of the Church, and he sent their checks along with the letter to the Rector.

Lewis and Frances Kafoure had agreed to pay for the repainting of the kitchen and would send the painter’s bill to Fr. Kippenbrock with a check to cover it. Roy Newham, who was in the flooring business, provided a new kitchen floor, and the D.C. Roddey family gave “a specially built kitchen table to match the counter-tops.” Macks and his wife had “taken care” of the carpenter’s bill, which was $44.00, “and various other minor expenses for a total of slightly over $50.00.” Also, Converse Ferrell made the gift of a new refrigerator to the Church, and Emma Wainer donated new “glass curtains” for the kitchen and paid for their installation. A local appliance company, Futch and Wilkes, disconnected, moved, and reconnected the stove and oven at no charge, and Stalvey and Killgore did the needed extensive plumbing. The kitchen sink, which had not been installed correctly in 1949, had to be properly secured, and the pipes beneath the sink were “in very bad shape, needing a considerable change of the piping.” Macks went on to say that “the repairs were necessary whether the kitchen was remodeled or not, and so we figure this is a normal household expense which the Vestry will be willing to take care of.” He expressed his hope that “the Vestry and you will be satisfied with the results. Good clean and easy housekeeping should be possible from now on, especially if all will co-operate.”

Finally, in the fall of 1960, Vestry created a solution to Christ Church’s other problems with the physical plant. With Vestry’s authorization, Senior Warden Omer W. Franklin, Jr. borrowed $1,250.00 from the Citizens and Southern National Bank of Valdosta. He also refinanced the existing note from the purchase of 103 East College Street in 1958, and informed the bank that the Church’s intention was to repay at the rate of $100.00 per month. From the loan’s proceeds, Vestry paid $572.00 for Davis Air Conditioning to install a new heating system in 103 East College. On the basis of the remaining $678.00, Vestry consented to allow Mr. Ellis, the Junior Warden, to take bids for repairs to 103 East College and for the painting of the Church, Parish Hall, the Sunday School Annex (soon to be named Barnwell Hall), and 103 East College as well. Apparent later confirmation that the planned work was completed came in a report to the Vestry on January 3, 1962, in which the then Junior Warden, James Perryman, affirmed that “all physical property of the Church was in reasonably good repair, with the exception of the Rectory.” The Rectory was the house at 115 West North Street that Christ Church had built in 1910 and that frequently needed maintenance or repairs.

Not long afterward, in the Vestry session of March 14, 1962, Blake Ellis made a motion, seconded by Lewis Kafoure, that, as the Minutes said, concerned “certain improvements and/or maintenance which . . . [are] proposed for the Church.” In specific terms, the Ellis motion was that “the present altar and . . . [reredos] be replaced by a new altar and cathedral glass window behind the new altar with other alterations as required for an expenditure of approximately [$]3,000.00.” Further, Mr. Ellis declared in the motion, “This is the first step in a master plan which will eventually move the choir and organ to the rear of the church above the narthex, resurface the existing block walls, [and] install a new finished ceiling. The project will be financed in a way to be determined by the Vestry[,] the finance committee[,] and a building committee consisting of Mr. Kafoure & Mr. Ellis.”

This story will continue in the August 2013 Vineyard.