HISTORY OF OUR BUILDING
Bro. Franklin Slayman
When the writer became a Christadelphian many years ago, they were meeting on the fourth floor of the Eagles Hall building. We used an elevator to get to the auditorium and many times had to share the elevator with their members who had been drinking alcoholic beverages and it brought dissatisfaction from our members. Also there were times when the auditorium reeked from a meeting held the night before. The hall was a suitable place as far as arrangements and seating convenience but it was not available for any other day than Sunday. We held our Memorial Services there and occasionally lectures in the evenings. Our Bible classes were held in our members homes.
Eventually, Brother Charles Wheeler an ambitious and sincere brother found the building we are now in. It was a prefabricated structure that had been used as a first grade building in the rear of Cedar School. Some religious body purchased a lot across the street and had the building moved to where it now sits. They provided no basement and no foundation other than two rows of bricks which rested upon the top of the ground. Consequently the building moves when the temperature changes from summer to winter. To support the floor they used tree stumps which rotted away and the floor sagged and this caused the ceiling to sag as well for it was supported by two pipes from the floor to the ceiling. The roof also sagged. Four chandelier lights hung from the ceiling which were wired with lamp cord also a few receptacles were wired with light cord. There were six long windows that came within two feet from the floor level. The only heat in the building was six small gas stoves, (three on each side) with the vents going through the sides of the building. The roof had a steeple housing which was too heavy for the roof and it broke some of the supports. There were two toilets at the North end of the lot, separate from the main building.
In appearance they resembled the old country out-houses but they were flushable. The side walls
of the building were off plumb by four inches in nine feet. There was no insulation in the building and cold air and snow came through the antiquated windows. Since there was no basement and no heat on the floor because of the unsealed bricks supporting the building the floor was extremely cold in the winter months.
The foundation bricks were sealed with a coat of cement.
We corrected some of the wiring. The steeple housing was removed from the roof
and the roof was patched. The stumps under the floor was replaced by cement
blocks and floor beams then the floor was leveled. Fold up chairs were purchased
but they were noisy when we stood and sat, and uncomfortable. Brother Notter who
lived a few blocks from the building would come early Sunday morning and light
the six gas stoves. We purchase some theater seats too replace the fold up
chairs, they too were not satisfactory. We used the hall until I received a
call from the city building inspector who requested a meeting.
A drastic change was required
The building inspector was an elderly man and very nice in all respects. He said he never wanted to close up a church but was pressured by state laws and complaints from the neighbors insisting on certain changes. The neighbors said the out houses was an eye sore and they were stinking but the inspector told them they were flushable. The inspector said the gas stoves were definitely illegal because the vents must be higher than the top of the roof. He also said the only way we could continue in the building would be to put the toilets inside and provide a central heating system. I told him we could not afford these
changes for all we had in reserve was about four hundred dollars. He said consult with your members and I'll call you in one month and we'll discuss your problems again. We were lost for answers but I briefed our superintendent at Timken for I heard they had to remove two houses in his church area to make a parking area. He told me we could have the larger one if we would hall away the debris. Our members discussed the possibility of using the material from the house to provide an addition enlarging our building but we were almost certain the inspector would not let us do the work since this city is strictly a Union town. Before the month was up I went to the inspector and told him of our plan to add on to our building a space to house toilets and a heating system but we could do it only if we did the work ourselves. He replied definitely NOT. But he said, give me a couple of weeks to see if I could come up with something. A couple of weeks later he called me and I met with him. He said, I contacted several people and told them your problems and this is what I can do for you. You can build your addition but it must be inspected. You will have to dig a ditch from your addition to the sewer line in the street. It will need to be approximately fifty feet long and ten feet deep at the sewer line. I talked with a contractor who agreed to put the sewer line and the toilet vents in at cost, but the lines must be tested and inspected.
He said you must have a licensed plumber put the gas feed line in from the South end of your lot to the position of your furnace. From that point on you can do your own plumbing on gas or water but it must be inspected. He said, you can put your own wiring in but it must be according to commercial building code and it must be inspected. The inspector had gone to a lot of trouble to grant us a way out.
We had a meeting and discussed who would do the various jobs and as "ONE MAN" we undertook the responsibilities. Our first job was to tear down the house and save as much material as we could. Everybody pitched in, the sisters made meals and we started with one small truck and a trailer for hailing. With punches and hammers we were able to remover the shingles. We took the coal furnace with a gas conversion unit out piece by piece. We saved all the sheathing and the 2x4s, the 2x6s, the 2x8s and all beams supporting the floor joice, plus all the windows and doors and the toilet. The church agreed we could put all debris in the basement hole for it was to be filled in. The material was hailed to our building lot. It was a big job and everyone worked very hard. Tearing the plaster off was the dirtiest job I ever experienced. .
We did not have to ask for money from our members for everyone contributed willingly. Those who could not because of health or lack of time did their part in contributions of money.
START OF NEW ADDITION
We made sketches of what our new addition should look like and what it should contain. I contacted a friend who was a contractor, Mr. Rogers and asked him to bulldoze a basement opening and he did the
work without any charge. The only expense was to replace two side walk sections his dozer had broken. I must give brother Paul Inman a lot of credit for he managed the cement work in the basement plus the porch and steps. It rained the day the porch and steps were poured and he stayed up a good portion of the night trawling out the excess water. He also did more than his share in framing and the carpentry of the addition, which included partitions separating the kitchen area from the toilet rooms. The addition was sided and shingled along with the entire building. The East and West walls were straightened by adding additional walls inside. The kitchen area became a combination of Sunday school room and child care room with a sliding window so food could be served from the kitchen to the main hall where drop leave tables were provided.
We put the furnace in the basement and provided a blower and duct work to the
North end of the main hall. Later we had to add a second gas stove in the Sunday
school rooms at the South end of the building with an approved vent going
through the roof. I had a friend, Mr.Hinderer, who was a heating contractor to
put the gas feed line in about eighty feet long from the meter to the furnace. He supplied the material and the help without any charge. We cut holes in the
floors for the toilets and applied the necessary hardware and finished plumbing
sinks and toilets and had the work inspected.
Everything passed the first
inspection. We removed the pipes between the floor and ceiling and made four
pilasters outside the building to support two large "I" beams 25 feet long each
which supported the ceiling. (thanks to Paul Inman's ingenuity) The beams made
it possible for us to provide fours rows of fluorescent lights (a fifth row was
added later) The ceiling was paneled with acoustical panels and the electric
wiring for the lights and receptacles was finished. I was given a used switch
box from the Timken Co which we used to control the North end of the building
lights and receptacles. Our work was inspected and approved.
We added a timer system to turn the heat on and off on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays. The rest of the time was held at 60° F.. Bro. Paul Inman made a sign with removable letters for the outside of the building, later we replaced it with a purchased electrical lighted sign. We added two wall mounted air conditioners on the East wall. Brother Haack located a garage full of used pews. They were incomplete with some ends missing and they were painted black. The price was low and we bought them and attempted to remove the black paint with paint remover. It was too expensive and too difficult. A friend of mine suggested we have them sand blasted. This was the answer. It only took a few days and the oak wood came out very well. We made the missing parts and arranged them in the hall. Later we had a brother, who was an excellent upholsterer, upholster the seats which required a curved plywood board for each pew but it was worth the effort. We installed a baptismal tank beneath the platform floor with a removable cover when needed. We had the Power company replace the lines from the pole to the switch box and also had a new switch box added with two receptacles for the air conditioning units. We provided a cabinet in the North wall to house a PA amplifier and a tape recorder. Six speakers were located in the hall and microphones were installed at the podium. We added furniture on the platform. Our heating system was changed to a hot water system to provide heat in all parts of the building. We finally added a Central Air conditioning
Our hall will accommodate approximately 100 people which is ample at the present time. Hopefully it will be too small in the future but we will find an answer when it comes. We thank God who certainly had a hand in our progress.
As in most ecclesia's many decisions had to be made, some good and there were some mistakes made but we according to Brother H. P. Mansfield's advice must move ahead. The apostle Paul said to the Phillipians, Brethren, we count not to have apprehended but this one thing we do, forgetting these things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before. We press forward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
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