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Historic BE Episcopal church needs work

Local group gets advice from state experts about how to save it

August 18, 2019
Kevin Mertens - Register Staff Writer (kmertens@faribaultcountyregister.com) , Faribault County Register

The Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd has been on the National Registry of Historical Places since 1980. It is just one of many properties in the county the Faribault County Historical Society (FCHS) works to maintain.

In fact, in the last five years, the historical society has instigated many repair and upkeep projects in the county.

"We have installed new roofs on the West Delavan Lutheran Church and the Wakefield House," Bill Paul, the president of the FCHS, says. "The General Store, located at the fairgrounds, was completely remodeled with a new floor and repainted. It also is sitting on a new, permanent foundation."

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The Episcopal church is in need of a new roof.

"In addition, the Etta C. Ross building has been tuck-pointed and the Log Cabin completely refurbished," Paul stated.

Now the group is putting its emphasis on the Episcopal Church. The steps have already been rebuilt and they have started refurbishing some of the small stained glass windows. But the big project will be replacing the roof on the church.

"We are focusing our energies on the 150th anniversary of the church, which will be in 2022," Randy Anderson, the executive director of the Faribault County Historical Society, says.

With that in mind, Anderson and two other members of the board, Mike Dickman and A.B. Russ, met with two individuals from the state of Minnesota who have experience in these matters.

Todd Mahor and Julia Larson are both employed by the Minnesota Historical Society. Mahor is the State History Services Manager and Larson is the Design Reviewer on the Heritage Research staff.

Mahor and Larson came to Blue Earth on Wednesday, Aug. 7, to look at the church and offer some insights into possible directions the local historical society could pursue.

"One option would be to do a conditions assessment report," Larson explains. "This would involve hiring an approved architect to survey the building. One advantage of going this route is the architect would provide cost estimates for each type of repair."

A priority list would then be made and the FCHS could decide what repairs to make and when, according to Larson.

"Another way to go about it would be to do a historic structure report (HSR)." Mohar added. "A HSR provides documentary, graphic and physical information about a property's history and existing condition."

Small and large grants may also be applied for.

"The small grants are awarded four times per year, and are up to $10,000 each time," Larson comments.

The large grants are awarded once a year.

"An application for a large grant has to be in by May and then they are awarded the following January," Mohar explains.

Discussion among the group then centered on different hurdles the historical society could encounter. One of the things which will have to be determined is the type of roof which can be put on the building. Specifically, will it be necessary to use cedar shingles, similar to what is currently on the roof, to maintain the historical integrity of the building.

There was another possible obstacle brought up while the group discussed fixing the church building. Concern was raised qualifying for some of the grants might involve the necessity for the building to conform to some Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements. The answer to that question remains unknown at this point and may depend on the use of the building.

"Our main concern is to prevent water damage which is why the roof is the priority," Anderson comments. "We will get the roof done next summer."

"We (the historical society) are very mindful of maintaining the structures which are in our care," Anderson says.

 
 

 

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