Construction of new church pumping $1M-plus into economy

Published 9:45 am Saturday, July 2, 2011

Martin Rojas does drywall work inside the sanctuary of the new High Street United Methodist Church. -- GWEN ALBERS | TIDEWATER NEWS

FRANKLIN—More than $1 million is expected to be spent in the community during the yearlong construction of the new High Street United Methodist Church.

“When I look at the trash on site, I see bags for McDonald’s, Hardee’s and Farm Fresh. They all eat well,” said Calvin Wilkerson, site superintendent with Kenbridge Construction, the general contractor for the $8.7 million project on Camp Parkway.

Among those benefiting are local contractors Crowder & White for site work, Electrical Equipment Co., Old Virginia Molding and TCI Communications, all of Franklin, and Rawlings Mechanical of Courtland for the heating, air conditioning and ventilation.

Kenbridge is currently negotiating with locals on the millwork for the stairs, handrails and ornate work, Wilkerson said. The landscaping and landscaping-design work also will be done locally.

Contractors have purchased materials like lumber from Basnight & Co., joint fasteners from Dail’s Home Center, miscellaneous items from Ace Hardware and concrete from Commercial Ready Mix, all in Franklin, Wilkerson said.

Construction on the 30,000-square-foot, brick church across from Riverdale Elementary School began in November and is about 50 percent complete, he said. The church should be completed by December.

The building includes a roof with handcrafted Buckingham Slate, the same slate that’s on national landmarks like Ford’s Theatre, the Smithsonian Institution Building and University of Virginia.

The new church will feature stained-glass windows and light fixtures from the 350-seat sanctuary in the current High Street United Methodist Church at 301 W. First Ave., Franklin, said Ann Jervey, building committee chairperson.

“We removed the windows from the present church,” Jervey said. “They are being stored until they are ready for them.”

The windows are memorial windows that date as far back as 1920.

“The name of our project is ‘honor the past, embracing the future,’” Jervey said. “We love our present church and we wanted to incorporate it into our future.”

While a rose stained-glass window will be the centerpiece for the building’s east side, a 60-foot-high steeple will be the focal point for the front. The fiberglass and aluminum steeple made in Campbellsville, Ky., will be delivered in three sections later this month.

“It will be assembled on the ground, and with a small crane, hoisted vertically and with a large crane (put in place),” Wilkerson said.

Church member Bob Luck, who was appointed to oversee the construction, said he’s pleased with the progress.

“We are very fortunate to have brought in an excellent contractor, and it’s an excellent architectural design,” Luck said.

He noted that although a number of subcontractors are not local, like the bricklayers, he’s amazed at their attitude and interest.

“They’ve had enthusiasm for it and asked me to please let them know when we were going to have our first service,” Luck said.

He also noted that at least 15 local folks were hired to help on the church.

The current church is for sale.

“We are very hopeful there will be a church that will need a new church,” Jervey said.

High Street United Methodist Church is donating its fellowship hall to Cooperative Ministries, which helps the disadvantaged with housing, utilities, prescriptions, dental care, household goods and clothing.

The fellowship hall was built in memory of Ellis Frankfort, who was an Air Force fighter pilot killed at age 21 in the South Pacific during World War II. His brother, Phil, belongs to High Street United Methodist Church.