A least a decade ago, Timothy B. Safford, Rector of Christ Church in Philadelphia (founded in 1695) made this statement: “Church buildings and the worldly good they possess can create as many problems as solutions for the people of God.” He spoke those words when renovations were needed for that congregation’s 1727 church building. They are also appropriate words today for Trinity, as we recently found ourselves in need of a new HVAC (heating, ventilating, and air conditioning) system for the parish house. The deciding factor was that our boiler was seriously rusting and leaking. Steam heating systems have an average life expectancy of 40 years, whereas much of the system in our parish house has reached 62 years. By today’s standards our system was not efficient, and it was difficult to control. In addition, since the church and Fondersmith Auditorium are no longer on that system, it was entirely too large. Significant sums had been spent over the past decade to keep it running, but continuing to do so was no longer prudent. It is being replaced by a modern VRF system that can provide heating, cooling, or both at the same time to different parts of the building. A master control system will allow the monitoring and control of the temperature of each room or area, all from one central location.
A second need is a new slate roof for the church, which we have reason to believe dates from 1922. It has had a long life, but it is now seriously deteriorated. We no longer have confidence that leaks would not result from a severe storm. The life of a slate roof depends on where the slate was quarried, the pitch of the roof, and whether it has been well maintained. We believe that the current slate was good, but the pitch is not steep, and some early maintenance was unprofessional.
It has been a slow process, but I am now please to report that all work has been completed on the replacement of the steeple’s statue level roof. The original roof was likely wood shingles. At some point it was replaced with a tin roof. We were aware a decade ago that the tin roof was leaking and that some of the wood under it was rotting, but the decision was made to seal it as best we could in order to delay the cost of replacement. When delay was no longer an option, Vestry agreed to replace the roof and rotted wood, funding the project with Endowment Funds. That work was started in 2013, but was not completed until earlier this year. The new roof is totally hand crafted of coated copper. With minimal attention it should last for many generations.
The steeple statues of the four apostles are 1950 replicas of the original 1794 statues now located in the church narthex. Unfortunately, the replacements were carved from laminated wood, whereas the original statues were solid wood except for the arms. Within a few years, the lamentations of the replacement statues started to open, and the have been problematic ever since. We now have them inspected annually for any wood rot, and they have once again been repaired and re-painted.
Smaller projects that have been completed recently include replacing several cracked bricks in the church floor near the center of the chancel, sealing of the Mifflin Street steps into the church, repairing and/or stabilizing the marble thresholds at all three south doors into the church, and repairs to the flooring in the parish house basement. For the storage of expensive chapel paraments, a cabinet with modified hangers has been provided to allow them to be hung rather than folded and stored in drawers. This approach should eliminate wear at the folds.
I would like to take this opportunity to express my appreciation to all those who have been financially supportive to property needs over the years. From gifts such as funding of the restoration of a stained glass window to simply contributing regularly to the Property Fund Offering, they are all acts of love given to the Glory of God.
Lloyd E. Bull, Property Committee Chairperson