Sanctuary Building Update

from Michelle Sheeler and the Building Restoration Task Force

It’s been two months since a pipe froze and burst in our Sanctuary Building, and though Sandy Bottom is a beautiful place to hold Spring-time services, we’re all eager to get back into our own, newly renovated space for services and religious exploration!  This article will give you an idea of all the work that’s been done and continues to be done to get the Sanctuary Building ready for use again!  (Note: Pictures were often taken as work was in progress.)


You can have (a) the quality you want (b) at the price you can afford (c) in the time you want it — but you only get to choose two of the three!  Since we have a comfortable margin on the “Loss of Use” clause of our insurance policy to cover the use of the Sandy Bottom Nature Center, we can complete this project properly!


social area after remediationkitchen after remediationOur insurance paid for immediate remediation of the water damage — pulling up flooring, removing the lower two feet of drywall in the affected areas and tearing out the lower kitchen cabinets — and for the materials and labor needed for subsequent restoration.  The Building Restoration Task Force has carefully planned how to stretch the insurance money as far as it will go, getting quite creative at times!


The most immediate progress was on the walls.  Once the contractors had replaced the lower two feet of drywall, they painted the walls of the Sanctuary, Library, social area, kitchen and Caum Room.  The Art Nook is also painted a beautiful blue.  They cut, primed and painted new trim boards for the doorways, too.  Thanks to all those worker bees who emptied the closets in the Caum Room and the Library, it was also possible to paint those and their shelves.  While this additional work was taking place, two holes in the Library drywall from unknown sources not related to this project were also patched and painted.  All that remains is some touching up still to do!


new kitchen cabinetsOur new kitchen cabinets and countertops match and look great.  We moved the island to allow wheelchair access to the area next to the sink and more space for all the cooks to dance around each other.  The island itself gives us a 14-square-foot surface with outlets at either end for our beloved crock pots and soup warmers.  It has large drawers and accessible shelving, and no overhang to hit your head on as you root for contents.  And since it is made up of separate base cabinets, there’ll be no more lost items pushed through to the other side!  With more room between the island and the counters, the dishwasher will be to the right of the sink, rather than blocking the cabinets where the dishes are kept.  Also, the microwave will be installed over the stove complete with venting.  This will give us more storage space where the microwave used to be.  The old fluorescent light above the old sink has been replaced with a new cabinet.  All in all, we’ll benefit from more and better storage space in our new kitchen!


The concete floor is being sealed so that vinyl flooring throughout the kitchen, coffee service area and Caum Room can be installed next week.  The carpeting is on its way to us and will be installed next week, too.


new window sillsnew chair railThe ceiling has been repaired in a number of places and touched up, and the wiring for our audio-visual systems has been re-routed for a cleaner look.  There’s a very nice new chair rail at the back of the Sanctuary, which will protect the wall from damage by chairs.  The contractor has also given us real windowsills, sized to accommodate small plants.


The drywall installer closed the opening for the old stage, which had to be scrapped due to the extent of the water damage.  Its replacement will provide a more readily moveable, adjustable platform, allowing for more flexible use as well as safer access.  With modular elements, it can function as a riser for the ChorUUs, too!


Sadly, the organ was damaged beyond repair and could not be salvaged.  An insurance adjuster evaluated its replacement cost, and we are waiting to hear from our insurance company as to what money they will give us.  We’ll use it to buy a keyboard that complements our fabulous music program.


opened up entry wayA vote of the Building Committee, the Long Range Planning Committee and the Membership Committee resulted in a decision to open up the entry foyer by eliminating the inner set of doors.  The result is really quite surprising!  It feels like the social area has grown.  We anticipate a much improved flow of incoming folks on Sundays with special benefit to families toting children and folks with walkers and wheelchairs.  The contractor had added trim and paint to complete the changes.


This is a high priority item as many of us would like to see solar panels installed on the roof.  We would also like to avoid further roof leaks!  We agree that we have gotten all the life we can expect from the old roof which, in 1995, was declared ready to fail by the Long Range Planning Committee of that year.  Now that our walls and ceiling are painted, it’s a perfect time to replace our roof.  The heavy rains over the weekend found their way into the coffee area as usual, puddling where our new vinyl will be installed and encouraging us to replace the roof.  Our contractor has provided one quote to replace the roof and skylights and other bids will be solicited so that we can go ahead with this important next step.


working on the closetsworking on the cabinetsThanks go to everyone who has helped move items around and take care of many non-contractor issues here and there!  The Belly Dancers in particular did a great job cleaning up the floors for their event last weekend.  While the setting was a bit funky for their function, their cleaning efforts helped move the project along!


The plumber who fixed the pipe that froze (and which had burst twenty years ago, too!) recommended insulating boxes around the exterior hose bibs that allow them to be accessed by hoses but otherwise protect interior pipes from freezing in future cold weather.


We’re aiming to be back in the Sanctuary Building for Sunday, May 10th!

About acmillard

Andrew serves as minister to the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of the Peninsula in Newport News, Virginia.
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2 Responses to Sanctuary Building Update

  1. Pingback: Doing What We Say We Are Here To Do | UU Fellowship of the Peninsula

  2. Sandy says:

    wonderful work Michelle, Brandy and Alan and others! It really does take a village (of UU’s)

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