WARREN TOWNSHIP - Equipment, supplies and food are needed in a project involving demolition of a former Jefferson County church built 17 years before the Civil War.
Various religious denominations are involved in the "reclaim/remake" effort concerning the former Hopewell United Methodist Church on Jefferson 4 near Rayland. The project will include a new structure to be used during funeral services and by visitors to the Hopewell Cemetery.
The Hopewell congregation now meets in a church building constructed a short distance away in 1990.
T-L Photo/MIKE PALMER
BUILT BEFORE the Civil War, the abandoned church which once served the Hopewell United Methodists near Rayland will be razed, and a commemorative structure built, using some materials from the old church. Work on the “reclaim/remake” project will be done from May 7 to June 30.
Dating back to the 1780s, the Hopewell church has been described as the first denominational church in the Northwest Territory, and it has received acclaim from various sources.
Working on the project will be Catholic University of America students, who will participate in an eight-week course of dismantling the abandoned church and designing and constructing a commemorative structure. The project is a collaboration between the Washington, D.C., university's School of Architecture and Planning and the Hopewell United Methodist Church.
The Meadowbrook Church of God between Rayland and Dillonvale also is cooperating in the project by housing the students.
Work is planned from May 7 to June 30.
Area residents have been invited by the Hopewell congregation to a meeting scheduled May 8 at 7 p.m. at the current Hopewell church, located at 478 Jefferson 16, Rayland. This will give the public an opportunity to talk with the college students about the project, and the congregation also is interested to know if anyone has any historical information or material related to the project.
A church spokesperson said the college has applied for grants to cover some costs of the project, but it is necessary to ask for additional help from local people with equipment and supplies. Donations of non-perishable food and bottled water also are requested.
Needed equipment includes a telescoping lift, a man-lift, small crane, skid steer, scaffolding, roll-off containers for unusable materials and storage containers for materials to be reused. Supplies needed include mortar, nails, screws, bolts and roofing material.
The students also need a few hand tools such as hammers, pry bars of different sizes and shovels as well as hard hats and first-aid kits. It also was noted gift cards for places such as Lowe's would be helpful in the purchase of necessary supplies.
Any donations, according to the congregation, would be greatly appreciated. Contact numbers are (740) 859-4159, (740) 859-2225, (740) 424-8544, (814) 571-8659 or (202) 319-6439.
It was pointed out in the CUArch website that the 1840s church building has been abandoned for more than 20 years "during which time, there has been no heat in the building and no maintenance performed. As a result, the physical condition of the church is poor and the roof of the steeple has completely collapsed.
"The building has no water and sewer service and therefore cannot be adopted, and the predominantly elderly congregation is unable to maintain the building."
It also was noted that the upcoming project "proposes to reclaim the building's materials and its footprint for a new commemorative and contemplative open structure to serve visitors to the cemetery site. The course will also generate opportunities for the community to rediscover this site and participate in the recovery of its history."
According to the Hopewell spokesperson, restoration of the building would serve no purpose. It would not be occupied, but would still be an insurance liability for the church members and a continued target for vandalism.
Plans regarding the project are to save some items such as the pointed arch windows, oak hardwood flooring and some of the hand-hewn timber to be used as decorations in the commemorative structure or to sell to cover some of the costs of the new structure.
It was pointed out that "saving some of the items would be a way for the members of the church to retain some of the historic value of the old structure."