March 31, 2021

A Hole in the Ground

Most of the debris of the Yellow House was removed yesterday. Most of today’s work consisted of removing the concrete basement walls, cleaning up the hole and planning what comes next. Since the first floor of the addition will be about three feet higher than the floor of the Yellow House, a next step will be to add several feet of compacted coarse crushed rock to the hole and loads of rock have been arriving all afternoon.

March 30, 2021

Goodbye Yellow House

The following reflections from Ginger Allen, our Director of Family Ministries, seem like a good place to begin today’s blog on the UUCP building project. This was a momentous day, the day when our beloved Yellow House was demolished to make was for our new addition to house offices, RE spaces and meeting spaces. First come Ginger’s thoughts, then some pictures:

On Monday I watched the Yellow House slowly be dismantled.  I stood on the fire escape of the McConnel Mansion as the cold wind blew snow out of the sky.  The pieces came down slowly – parts of the roof, the back addition where the old garage had stood, the wall the children had painted in the basement. 

During a construction break I asked if I could take one more look inside.  As I peered in the front bay window, I was astonished at what the demolition had reveled – layers of the house that had not ever been apparent to me now stood in the bright light of day. Wallpaper dating back to the late 1880s came forth, each layer peeling back to reveal the next.  One was white with yellow pansies.  Another was off white, thick, textured flowers with geometric designs. The floorboards were taken up showing timbers that had supported walking feet for 140 years.  Outside, the yellow siding gave way to black tar paper, which gave way to the original siding which had one clear bright coat of paint. It was yellow.  Covered since likely the first decades of the 1900s the Yellow House revealed what we somehow already knew – it had always been the Yellow House.

The demolition was hard work.  It took large machines and sweat and muscle. For me it took the hard work of courage and it took tears.  The building that had housed so much of my childhood was coming down. The walls where I was loved and cared for and safe were to no longer be.  I knew that my memories and those foundational supports would always live in my heart.  I expected all this.  But what I didn’t expect is what gifts the house gave as it was letting go.  It showed me how beautiful and revealing dismantling work can be. Pieces of the house that could never be seen without taking it totally apart were open now to the sunlight of that day.  It was if the house was speaking to me, “Here, under the layers of what you could see, is more than you could have ever imagined. As I move on I offer you this – the work of undoing is beautiful.”

As a church we are removing the house so that we can more fully live our dream of being truly radically welcoming.  The steep stairs and narrow doorways kept people from the spaces inside.  Flooding, old wiring, and strangely shaped classrooms were not effective for our children or adults to learn. Our new space will let us live out our mission as a church in ways not yet possible, to widen our reach to all people.  And to do this we must take down the existing structures that no longer serve us, no matter how beloved they are.  The future spaces we will build are to be the foundation to bring our wildest hopes to life. 

This transition is occurring as I enter my sabbatical.  For four months I will be away from my role and church community.  As I sat watching the walls of the Yellow House come down, I realized that this was the universe offering me a metaphor into my time away.  The calling is for to look inside at my own structures and wonder, what exists inside of me that needs to come down to make room for the person and life I want to build?  How can I move more fully into the dream of expansive, open-hearted living, and what needs to be moved out to do so?  Watching the careful demolition process also let me know that this is a slow, complicated process, that it is not be rushed through.  The gifts of letting go will be revealed if I am open to them, there are layers and layers to these structures that have beauty and worth and they no longer serve me. One of the largest pieces of my time away will be to be present to these and say, as I said to the Yellow House on that cold spring day, thank you and goodbye.  I love you.

There were several other tasks going on simultaneously with the Yellow House crunching. they are using this huge vacuum cleaner to suck asbestos contaminated vermiculite insulation out of the attic.

And they were removing the block wall at the SW corner of the church and stacking the blocks on pallets to be reused in the wall that will go behind the addition. Note the blue vacuum hose that goes up to the eaves to suck out the vermiculite.

March 27, 2021

Moving the Play Structure

The last thing that had to be moved before the start of building demolition was the kids play structure. The thing is very heavy, so it needed a Saturday work party. The plan involved some 2x4s – three across as handles and 2 on the legs as skids. So, with three people on each side it was carried across the patio, over the curb, and onto the trailer. From there it was on to its new home and another heavy carry to its new back yard. Note the shell of the Yellow house in the third picture, ready for demolition starting Monday morning.

March 25, 2021
A Look inside the Church Basement

The dismantling of the yellow house continued today with a Wasankari crew removing windows and subflooring boards. The boards are 1×4 tongue and groove vertical grain fir. Consistent with the era, they were fastened with square nails. Of course, they have lots of other nail holes where the hardwood floor was nailed down on top. They will probably end up as distressed paneling on the wall of somebody’s recreation room.

Roger, our contractor representative, was there when I visited this afternoon, so I got a tour of the church basement. The kitchen area is now completely gutted. The next picture is of the north kitchen wall. The two plywood panels were once window openings, which were covered up when the building underwent a major kitchen remodeling. The plywood gives a hint of the date – plywood came into common construction use immediately following WWII. The sheets hide two window wells each 3 feet wide and extending 4 feet behind the plywood. They appear to be now capped with concrete to keep out moisture. They are totally hidden outside now – covered over by the ground north of the church.

The next picture looks west toward the furnace room. Why was there was once a door there? Perhaps the kitchen once had a wood/coal stove, and the door gave access to the coal bin. There are two locations where stove pipes went through this wall to connect to the chimney beyond. The subflooring is still mostly in place and seems solid, and it is nicely dry underneath. The pass-through cabinet is still in place. It has a potentially attractive vertical-grain fir top that could be refinished, but the cupboards and drawers would need significant work.

I find it fascinating to look at the bones of old buildings. This spool and tube electric wiring was modern technology when the Swedish Lutheran Church was built in 1905. Wiring Moscow homes for electric lights was still a new thing. Electricity distribution had just started in 1897, powered by a generator located at a sawmill at sixth and Jackson streets.

The basement project for tomorrow or Monday is to remove the steep narrow stairway. Up and down traffic will use the stairs or the elevator in the new addition. I doubt anyone regrets eliminating this dangerous bottleneck.

March 24, 2021

Not Much Going on Outside Today

The yellow shingles with lead paint are all gone from the house now, and the man-lift machine has gone away. Wasankari is planning to remove some windows and lumber from the building over the next few days. Final demolition of the building is planned for next week.

The interesting work is going on in the church basement. They are gutting the kitchen area. I’m not supposed to go inside the construction areas, but I can hear the hammering and crunching. The plan calls for reconfiguring and enlarging both the kitchen and a single bathroom. My view of what’s happening is from above the NE basement door, now covered with dust-control sheet plastic and with an exhaust fan blasting.

March 22, 2021

Did They Finish Removing the Lead Paint?

When I stopped by the church late this morning the hazardous waste people were working on the south side of the Yellow House. They had about finished the peak before taking a lunch break.

The piles of shingles must be picked up by hand and tossed into the dumpster. I figure the guy on the man-lift has a much more interesting job.

When I visited again in late afternoon they were very nearly done. There were a few shingles left on the NW corner along the alley, and a bit more under the canopy by the SW stairway.

Notice the dark storm clouds to the NW in that last picture. As I was driving home there was a downpour of hail or snow or grapple, or whatever that stuff is called. I’m curious whether they finished up. I will have another look tomorrow morning.

March 17, 2021
The Yellow House Loses its Yellow

As is true of most houses of this vintage, the shingle siding on the Yellow House had at least one coat of lead paint. The EPA requires that these contaminated shingles be removed by specially qualified workers and disposed of in a hazardous waste disposal site. This must be done before the rest of the building can be demolished.

The contaminated shingles go into plastic-lined dumpsters for transport to the disposal site. They stripped the shingles from about half of the yellow house on Wednesday and hauled away their dumpsters. I’m not sure whether they are working on Thursday.

I picked this four-leaf clover in the tracks where the dumpsters come and go. I take it as a good luck omen for our construction project.

March 16, 2021
A Look in the Church Attic


It is a tight squeeze up a ladder to the door and then up boards nailed to a beam as a rickety ladder. There is no floor, just some boards on the joists as a path. There is just insulation over the tin ceiling of the sanctuary. To see what we came up for, we walked on the edges of the Joists. It’s interesting to contemplate what would happen if I misstepped and put my full weight on the tin ceiling.

This is what we came to look at, a third rose window like the other two presently in place. One currently faces south and the second faces east where trees partly block our view. Where did the third rose window come from? Perhaps it once faced west. Obviously, this one is in bad shape. It is missing at least 6 pieces of glass and 4 pieces of wood frame. We had talked about placing this one in the peak on the south side of the addition. Is this one worth fixing? What would people think if we used a stained-glass chalice window instead for the addition?


This is the mystery item in the attic. As far as I can find out, it is based on the coat of arms of the Lutheran Church of Norway. The actual coat of arms would have a battle axe on each side and a longer base of the cross. Lutheran makes sense. However this church was Swedish Lutheran from when the present building started construction in 1905 until 1961 when the Swedish Lutherans and the Norwegian Lutherans merged to form Emanuel Lutheran and begin the process of building their new church on the west side of Moscow. So, why do we have a Norwegian Lutheran cross in the attic?

March 3, 2021

Paver Work Party

At least a dozen people turned out to help move the patio pavers. We moved about 25 tons of paver blocks to a storage place on the east side of the church. The paving blocks will be reused to pave the new patio to the south of the church. We rented a Bobcat machine to do the heavy lifting. Thanks to all the workers, this was a highly successful work party.

March 3, 2021

Building Update

The Capital Campaign Building Committee has been working hard behind the scenes moving the project ahead, dealing with many delays beyond our control. The church and Yellow House have been vacated. Summer Stevens, our secretary (new email, is working from home and the Methodist Church. We’re doing our best to keep in touch with neighbors to the north, to let them know of construction plans, parking-related issues in the alley, and whatever else comes up in the future. Patio pavers, playground equipment, and native shrubs are being moved. Jenny Kostroff from the 1912 Center invited us to put a camera there to document construction progress. John Pool and Pat Fuerst having been setting that up.

Yellow House: We celebrated the Yellow House history in a worship service (A Home for the Heart) and memories and photos will soon be posted on our website. Mementos have been, or will be, stored, such as the interior glass door and door molding corner blocks that depicted different religious traditions. These items will be used in the new building to bring a sense of the Yellow House with us. Everything possible is being salvaged or repurposed by UUCP, Habitat for Humanity (range, shelving, ramp) and Wasankari Construction (oak hardwood flooring, wooden doors). Some exterior doors and windows will be salvaged just before demolition, which is expected later in March. The exterior siding contains lead, and must be removed and disposed of before demolition can begin.

“Delay” is a catchword for this project. Although we have a contractor engaged in the project, the contract has not yet been signed. That may depend on the city issuing the final Building Permit, which in turn, may depend on a final version of the parking agreement with county (McConnell Mansion), city, and UUCP, which may take weeks. The contract, when we sign it, allows a one year period of construction. Meanwhile, construction materials are getting more expensive. Lumber prices are 2 to 3 times higher than a year ago, and this will affect cost of construction.

Construction “alternates”: Previously, the solar panels and balcony were referred to as optional “alternates”. They are now part of the plan. Generous donors have pledged to cover solar panels, and another generous person has offered to install them. The building and finance committees agreed we should stretch and build the balcony. Cost is less than 10% of the total cost of construction. We thought we could afford that, and at this particular time the city has issued us a Variance allowing its construction without adding more parking. However, the latter decision will be re-evaluated if there are cost-overruns early in the project.

February 1, 2021

Construction Begins!

How We Finally arrived at this Day – a Short History

– Rev. Elizabeth Stevens


We shape our buildings; thereafter, they shape us. – Winston Churchill

These are exciting times. In the coming months, the yellow house will be torn down, and a new, three-story addition to our church building will be constructed, to hold offices and accessible classrooms. We’ll have an elevator! And showers! And a nice, wide staircase, with space for people to pass each other as they go up and down!

As we embark, I want to pause and remind you all what it took for us to get to this point. In the Summer of 2015, the board, under the leadership of then-President Archie George, put out a survey to get a sense of people’s attitudes toward our facilities. The survey found that “The board concludes that there is a general desire of the congregation for significant change to the facilities.”

A facilities task force was formed, consisting of Al Poplawsky, David Nelson, Joel Hamilton, John Poole, Duane DeTemple, Donna Bradberry, Suzanne Seigneur and Craig McCleary. They came up with the four basic options, and some price estimates. Then it was the turn of the Facilities Discernment team: Mary DuPree, Chuck Harris, and Diane Prorak. They designed a process to allow the community as a whole to decide which option to pursue.

Once the decision was made, two committees were formed, one to work on the building plans, and one to raise the funds. These two teams have worked incredibly hard for the last three years. The building committee (ably led by Al Poplawsky) has worked with the architect to incorporate congregational ideas, dreams, and feedback into the plans, as well as getting all relevant permits and hiring a contractor. Members of this committee include Joel and Mary Jo Hamilton, Steve Flint, Donna Bradberry, Duane DeTemple, Nils Peterson, John Poole, Archie George, Mary DuPree, Pat Fuerst, Rich Alldredge and Bill Webb.

The Capital Campaign committee, meanwhile, worked with Stewardship Consultant Rachel Maxwell to design and implement our successful fundraising campaign. We owe thanks to Martha Schmidt, Judy LaLonde, Marisa Gibler, and Rich, Mary and Archie, all three of whom, at various points, pulled double duty, serving on both the building and the capital campaign committees. Four board presidents have shepherded the project since Archie got that ball rolling: Pat Fuerst, Marisa Gibler, Joe Pallen, and Rich Alldredge.

Meanwhile, I am 100% certain that I have missed names of people who have served on one or more of these committees or task forces (let me know!). Nor would it be possible to list all of the names of everyone who participated in the surveys or discernment process, contributed to the capital campaign, gave input or answered questions as we slowly found our way to the starting line (!) of actual construction, without whom we wouldn’t have been able to proceed. (Special thanks to Archie, Steve, Margaret Dibble, Rod Sprague, Pat Fuerst, Judy LaLonde, and the other volunteers who packed and moved and stored the contents of our two buildings, too.)

Five years. Thousands of volunteer hours. Countless meetings, conversations, and acts of generosity. It is deeply humbling…in fact, awe inspiring. The new building will be a testament to dedication, faithfulness, and love. You all are simply the best.

From February 2021 Newsletter