Campaign Donations
We continue to accept donations for the Capital Campaign Building project. Smaller contributions can be paid by check or credit card on our donations page.  We encourage a payment by check for larger contributions because of the fees we are charged for credit card donations.  Payment by check can be mailed to:
Unitarian Universalist Church of the Palouse
PO Box 9342
Moscow, Idaho 83843

July 16, 2021

The Roof Trusses Come

I arrived just as the truckload of roof trusses arrived. The longest were over 40 feet long and filled the flatbed trailer. The truck with the hoist nosed in through the gate and the trailer blocked the street.

The load included several different shapes of custom-built trusses. These half-trusses fit near the elevator, and the open space will be the hallway and the restroom.

This is the first of the 42 foot full width trusses. Note the bottom of the truss – called a “bottom chorded girder truss”. Roger assures me these are much stronger than a 2×12, because of the strong triangle shapes and because there are no knots or defects. These sit on the top plate of the hallway walls and provide a platform for the floor of the big conference room. The room will be about 18 feet wide and over 25 feet long.

As the trusses are set in place they are screwed and nailed in position and kept vertical with braces and temporary 2x4s nailed across. One man at each end checks the overhang at the eaves. I was amused to hear “1/4 inch your way” or “1/8 inch my way”. These eaves will be straight.

Roger spent much of his day on the trailer attaching the cable as the trusses were lifted, and then on the ground helping guide the truss with a rope. This is Roger’s photo from the flatbed.

This is another of Roger’s photos as the last full width truss was fastened in place.

When I arrived back midafternoon, they had the last wide truss in place and the truck was ready to depart. This gives a nice view into the space of our new conference room.

I assume that by now you have noticed that these trusses are flat topped, not the peaked gable roof you probably expected. Do you know the reason why? Full height trusses would be 20 feet high – and a 20 foot wide truss sitting on a flatbed trailer would be a wide load with all the highway restrictions that implies. So, there are peaked trusses that will sit on top to complete the roof. The carpenters will put a subfloor in the hallway and conference room, and some more bracing, so they can use ladders and scaffolding to install the peaks. These peak trusses weigh less than 100 pounds so they can manage them without the crane. In contrast the heaviest full width trusses approached 600 pounds.

Look how much the view from streetside has changed. Note also the 2 gaps in the trusses. On the west end this opens clear space for the fire exit hallway. The bottom chorded girder trusses to each side will provide attachment points for a “ladder” of I-joists to support the hallway and conference room floor. Roger explained that the other gap is where the engineer fell asleep. If a truss like the adjacent ones were used, the vertical member would come just outside the middle of the elevator door. The solution is some more ladder I-joists and some conventional framing.

There are 2 peak trusses leaned against the building. One will become the peak at the west end. The other is part  of the south gable peak that will sit on top of the new south roof. This piece is the frame that will hold the 48 inch round rainbow/chalice window.

July 15, 2021

Ready for Roof Trusses

Today was another for doing things that were put off for later. I was right that one of these put off things was some more sheathing. Behind the addition this meant lifting the big sheets into position using ladders rather than the man-lift.

From this position you can see more new sheathing, including the strip under the overhang. The sheathing on the west gable end will be put off until later, since the sheets will run up onto the end truss. Note also that they started the process of opening the door into the balcony – they stripped off the siding where the door will go.

This view of the building should change radically tomorrow – with the arrival of the roof trusses. I expect at least some of the heavy trusses will be lifted into place before the weekend.

July 14, 2021

Getting Ready for the Roof Trusses

Today was devoted to the necessary fiddly things. Odd bits of subfloor. Some more nails here and there. Finishing up around the new stairway to the third floor. Sweeping up the piles of sawdust. The roof trusses will be coming Friday, so they want to be ready.

I was startled when I visited the site in the late afternoon. The building looked different, but it took me a minute to realize why. They had cut the sheathing out of all the window openings. I understand that the sheathing helps to give stability to the wall framing, and it is easiest and fastest to just sheath over everything and cut it out later. I asked the carpenter about the windows. He agreed with the stability reason. But even more important, he said it’s cooler working inside during our month-long heat wave. Note the haze in the clear sky and the red tint to this photo. It’s real. Today was close to 100 degrees and the air had lots of wildfire smoke.

The roof trusses don’t come until Friday, so what will they do tomorrow? It seems like there are two choices. They could cut and frame the doorway into the balcony where the window used to be. Alternatively they could frame the stud walls for the foyer where they just put down joists and subfloor. I suppose they could also finish the sheathing up to the eaves.

July 13, 2021

A Third Floor and Some More Stairs

It is getting harder to see much from my perch on the LCHS fire escape. I am looking just about straight across the top plate on the second floor walls. Soon I’ll be looking up instead of down in. What I do see close to the church is the start of the third level floor. This is the floor for the foyer that provides access to the balcony and the big third level meeting room. Will this become our “Upper Room”?  Instead of I-joists, the rest of the area will be framed with engineered roof trusses. These trusses will enclose the meeting room – the room down the center and the roof to each side. This room will be about 18 feet wide and 25 feet long.

Look closely and you can see black plumbing sticking up. Most of these are vents for the bathrooms below, but the pipe to the right of the central hall will serve the third floor bathroom. The roof trusses will be arriving Friday.

In the picture below you are looking at the rim joist for the foyer. This will be a tall room – 12 feet tall – with a nearly flat roof just below the flat roof segment on the old church. There will be a gothic window matching the big south window in the church. The windows will line up – the double entry doors below, double windows on the second floor and the tall arched gothic window on the third. To the left will be roof trusses enclosing the meeting room, and a smaller south facing peak with the chalice/rainbow window.

In the hot afternoon, and mostly out of sight, the sounds indicated that stairs were being built. These will provide access between the second and third level. I suspect the carpenters will appreciate using stairs rather than ladders when they start installing trusses on Friday.

In case you have forgotten what the addition is supposed to look like, here is a reminder.

July 8, 2021

Stairs, Sound Booth and Joists

One set of stairs is now in place. Workers can now get up to the second level without using a ladder. The steps will eventually get rubber treads.

Pat Fuerst marked out the proposed position of the sound booth. The bit of finished floor marks the footprint of the old sound booth. The space will need to grow to accommodate the people and hardware required to livestream our Sunday services.

Since it has cooled down a bit – into the 90s – construction can move outside again. The second floor walls are mostly in place, so the next step is up. This means areas of floor jousts and subfloor for the foyer outside the stairway, elevator and balcony, and the area that will become the third floor meeting room. Off to the sides will be the trusses that will shape the roof. I am curious how it all fits together. This stack of I-joists is enough for a start. I expect more I-joists and some trusses to arrive next week.

I believe there was some insulation that has now been removed. In the future it will be an interior wall. I wonder whether it dates from the 1980s when the UUCP remodeled the building or was it even older than that.

July 6, 2021

Avista, Building Stairs, and a Balcony View

Avista was back this morning to do more work on our 3-phase electrical entrance. They cut the power to the 1912 Center for a time as they rearranged things on the pole. This is Roger’s picture, since the woman blocking traffic warned me away and I didn’t want to make a scene.

This box will apparently serve as a connection point for the cables that will run our way through the buried conduit.

Today was another scorching hot day (over 104 on my thermometer) so everybody was happy to work inside the addition. They need to build stairs so they can quit using ladders to get up and down. Stair construction is a complicated and precise business – actually requiring some math. Here they are discussing the process as they lean on the start of the first landing.

The zigzag piece that holds the steps is called a stringer. Given the heavy use these steps will get, the stringer needs reinforcement. He’s nailing a 2×6 stiffener to each side.

Roger also gave me pictures of the view from the balcony (another place I’m not supposed to go). This is the view looking down to the northeast.

This is the view to the west toward where the entry door will be cut through the remnants of the window. The balcony has 3 levels or risers. There will be glass railings across the front, and around the two bump-outs at the big window and by the transom window above the south sanctuary door. These should let considerable daylight into the balcony.

July 1, 2021

Balcony Framing and a Firewall

The heat wave has subsided a bit. It was only a bit over 100 this noon – much more comfortable than 110 degrees. There was noisy thunder last night but no rain in Moscow. Still, a better day to do work inside.

By late morning the first layer of balcony joists were in place and they were nailing subflooring on top.

The I-joists are held in place with metal joist hangers. Note how the balcony frame is blocked out away from the big window and the transom window above the old entry door. Up above, there will be a glass railing around these window wells.

The balcony floor will rise in steps to the back. This picture shows the framing of the second riser. The lowest level sits on the I-joists, which run north/south. The second level sits on the 2x6s that run east/west. The highest riser sits yet above that.

Today was also the start of our new firewall. Code required either a sprinkler system in both the church and the addition, or else sprinklers in the addition and a firewall separating it from the church. Retrofitting sprinklers in the church would have been difficult, expensive, and aesthetically inconsistent. The shotcrete and foundation are adequate retardant down below, but a firewall must be built above the shotcrete. Meeting code requires 2 inches of a drywall like material. That is, a double layer of 3’ by 8’ panels each 1” thick, held in place by metal channels and brackets. Roger is pondering how to construct the door openings and thresholds while preserving the fire retarding envelope.

June 29, 2021

Balcony Work Continues in Heatwave

I arrived at the church at about 11am, so the work had a good head start. The temperature had climbed over 110, so it was good they were able to work inside.  I missed seeing the heavy balcony beams lifted into place. The south beam looks a bit odd because it sits atop the header for the door into the sanctuary. In addition to the heavy beam, this header supports the weight of the old steeple (the smaller of the two towers) overhead, so Roger increased the size of the header and the posts on each end.

By being late I missed seeing the beam jacks in use. They had at leas 5 of them. They run along a standard 2×4, and with a pipe handle, inch their way up, lifting the beam.

Once up, the beams rest atop 6×6 posts – posts that will be hidden within the finished walls.

The south beam, both longer and heavier must have been trickier to lift. Its west end had to go over the header for the new door. I’m guessing this picture shows a track to stabilize the east end as it was lifted. Once it reached the top it nestled on top of the 6×6 post embedded in the wall.

Next, the beams will be supported by four 6×6 wood posts that match the position of the four new steel posts in the basement below. This means opening the floor to position the posts.

The post is secured into custom made steel brackets both top and bottom. It fits perfectly, with only a little persuasion from a hammer. The floor will be patched with matching old fir, joining all the older patches in the sanctuary floor – a map of the history of our building.

The first post is in place. I expect the other three will be completed this afternoon, but it is really too hot to go look. I’ll go look tomorrow morning. For now, I will contemplate this picture taken from about where the piano will sit. I imagine the balcony complete, and the chairs and audience in place, it is a pleasant thought.

This picture also fits a contemplative mood. It was a bit of trim that was removed with a window. I think it says “Swed Luth Ch, Moscow, Id”. I wonder if it dates from the original construction 115 years ago, or a later remodel.  It is being saved in case it is needed when the window is reinstalled in the addition. Otherwise, it goes in the artifact pile.

UPDATE: Roger’s Pictures of Lifting the Beams

I discovered that Roger sent me pictures of the north beam being lifted into place – the pictures I didn’t take because I arrived too late. See how the 2×4 sandwiches the beam against the 6×6 post, holding it upright as they work the levers on the jacks.

The same thing is happening on the other end. The beam must be just about high enough to shove it sideways and let it down on the post. Heavy screws will be used to secure the beam to the wall framing.

June 28, 2021

Installing the Avista Electrical Connection

We need a heavy duty 3-phase electrical connection to serve our new elevator. This means a connection up the power pole across the street beside the conduits serving the 1912 Center. Our wires will be in underground conduit. This machine bores the hole and will pull the conduit.

This hand-held device detects the tip of the boring head – it is now almost to the hole but a little to the east. The operator 160 feet away will turn the head a bit so it hits the hole.

The tip entered the hole dead center.

They removed the boring head and replaced it with a pulling head. The mud is lubricant supplied by the machine to ease the path through the Palouse clay.

The three conduits are 160 feet long and flexible. The joints use a special glue so they don’t come apart in the pulling. The machine is capable of applying 6000 pounds of force pushing or pulling.

The loops glued on the ends of each conduit are linked by heavy cable to the pulling head. The pulling head rotates to ream enough room for the conduits as it pulls.

The three conduits slide very slowly into the hole.

The tips finally emerge 160 feet away.

At this stage the conduits are empty. Eventually, this end will run wires up the poles connecting to the power line. The other end will be extended a bit more to serve the transformer behind the addition.

We are in the middle of an unprecedented heat wave. This is our third day above 100 degrees (presently 107 at 3pm) and several more days coming. The workers have moved inside where it is slightly cooler to get started on the new sanctuary door and balcony. I may brave the heat in late afternoon to see how they are progressing.

June 24, 2021

A Window for the South Peak of the New Addition

The architect’s plans for our new addition to the church make it clear that the UUCP will provide the window that will go into the south roof peak of the addition. The contractor will build a 48 inch round opening in the south peak, but it is up to us to come up with something to fill it. The building committee has discussed the design of this window at several meetings. There are several alternatives.

The window in the south façade of the addition is intended to reference the rose windows presently in the south and east peaks of our 115-year-old church building. There was once a third rose window in the west peak, although that one deteriorated (probably leaking rainwater) and was removed during the west wall re-siding project – and the opening was sided over. The remnants of that window are still propped against beams in the church attic. This suggests the possibility of fixing the window and using it in the addition. Unfortunately, the old window is in very poor shape. Dan Schmidt has some of the parts, I have some others, and there are probably other parts still missing. The wood that’s still there is very weathered and brittle. The dowels and screws that hold it together are mostly loose and sometimes gone. The window would probably have to be mostly rebuilt with new wood.

Because of the poor condition of the third rose window, the discussion has ranged more broadly, looking at alternatives. First, this is a new addition that we are adding to our 115 year old church building. Despite plans that reference the style of the church, no one is going to mistake the addition for a historic building. A major reason we chose to proceed with the building project was to accommodate our burgeoning RE program and our ideas for outreach. Our facility is no longer a Swedish Lutheran church. These are reasons why the addition should acknowledge the physical heritage of our old building but also note that we have a separate identity in the community.

So where does this lead? We could commission a leaded glass window, but that might be expensive with a long time lag. There are several UUCP members who have dabbled in leaded glass (including Mary Jo and myself) but a 48 inch round window would be a daunting prospect. However, we do have a UUCP member who is an actual glass artist, regularly selling her work, including weekly appearances at the Moscow Farmer’s Market. Pam Arborgreen’s art is based on found materials – often fragments of glass bottles epoxied to the glass in old window frames. Her themes are quite varied, but often botanical. I approached Pam about the project, and she expressed an interest.

I also talked with Roger (the contractor’s site manager at our project). He, of course, was very interested in the window itself, and was concerned with my initial idea of using a single 48-inch glass panel. He argued for a double pane 48-inch round window from the same series as the rest of the windows in the addition to address concerns about insulation and rain penetration. Pam agreed that a double window should work with her art style, so long as it is backlit, which is the plan.

What should be the theme of the window? Any internet search on “Unitarian images” will show many and varied images of chalices. This seems to be the undeclared icon of the Unitarian churches. The internet hits range from jewelry to coffee mugs, to t shirts, to church stained glass windows. The other theme that is common is a rainbow, symbolizing our professed support for diversity. Many combine the chalice with the rainbow, often as a border around a chalice.

Pam is thinking about the materials, design and assembly of a window. The Building and Aesthetics Committees are currently working with Pam to finalize a design for the window. Pam has access to the stash of colored glass that Mary Jo and I collected nearly 50 years ago when we last did leaded glass. There are lots of colors, although we’re short of orange and indigo/violet shades. Pam has found some black glass for the body of the chalice.

The time schedule remains uncertain. The 48 inch round double pane glass window has been ordered. It will probably come along with the other windows. Delivery dates for everything are uncertain because of the building boom and material shortages. If you have unused colored glass you want to donate to the project, or if you want to offer financial support, please let me know at

In the south elevation drawing from the building plans you can see the placement of the old rose window and the new window to be made. We will keep you posted.

June 22, 2021

Pathways, Framing and Pumping

The interesting stuff today was happening behind the addition. The excavator was backfilling against the foundation and reshaping the area. The ultimate goal is a walkway from the parking area, along the back of the addition and connecting to the rear exits from all three floors (the second and third floors via a steel stairs). The path will also access the raised area on the right which we hope will become a play area. The grading is made more complex by the big Avista transformer (and all its connections) that will be placed just north of the path, by the heat pump units that will sit on a pad back near the church, and by the need to protect the roots of our neighbor’s trees to the north.

I liked the way the trees frame this view of the project. The carpenters have now rough framed most of the second floor walls. They still have things to do before they go on to the third floor. They need to construct a firewall in the space between the church and the addition. The exterior sheathing is needed to provide rigidity before they go higher. With that, and a few more things, they will begin to add roof trusses, which will nestle the third floor meeting room under the roof.

Roger Shattuck took this picture of the concrete pour I missed last Thursday. The concrete pump truck is an amazing machine. It delivered concrete to forms near the back door of the addition, and then reached the length of the addition to fill the wheelbarrows used to fill forms in the kitchen and office areas. Thanks, Roger, for sending me the picture.

June 21, 2021

Backfilling, Framing and the NE Exit

Today they began backfilling the foundation trenches with crushed rock. They start with a perforated drainpipe at the bottom, with a fabric sleeve to keep rocks from clogging the pipe holes. They paused this afternoon to let the electrician install some conduit to the Avista transformer. When they finish they will compact all the backfill.

Remember those 43-foot beams that were sitting at the curb? This morning they were lifted to the second floor deck with a forklift, and set on several 4-wheel dollies. (See one upside down on top, one under the far end, another in the middle, and probably another out of sight to the right.) They just cut a small hole in the wall and wheeled in the heavy beams. The hole and nearby window will soon be opened to become the double door between the foyer and the sanctuary. The beams will form the under frame for the new balcony.

Here is another surprise that our 115 year old building presented us with. This is the NE exit door from the sanctuary. The door is scheduled for replacement and will lead out to a new landing and steps. What we didn’t know was how rotten the sill is underneath. Roger thinks a beam salvaged from the Yellow House can probably be slipped in as a replacement.

The walls of the second floor are taking shape. Most of the perimeter walls are in place and they are starting on the elevator walls. Note on the far end where they left a gap so they can use a fork lift to slide in stacks of materials.

June 18, 2021

Some Concrete, Some Walls and Some Big Beams

A delivery of concrete mix arrived early Thursday morning. The pumper truck with the long boom pumped concrete over the addition to forms near the back door. Then they reached even further to pump concrete to waiting wheelbarrows through the church south basement door. This was then wheeled to forms to make berms to separate the (yet to be poured) concrete kitchen and office area floors from the floor that was renovated over a decade ago. Mary Jo and I are not morning people, so I missed concrete pumping, but Roger promised to send me a picture.

Thursday, after the concrete pour, they also made progress framing walls. The complex south wall looks mostly complete, but is still flat on the deck. I guess they didn’t want to stand it up (and vulnerable to wind) before their 3-day weekend.

The site was quiet when I visited late morning Friday. What I noticed immediately was the package sitting at the curb. There was a label on the west end that said 5 1/8 by 13 inches and 43 feet long. This must be the beams that will become the understructure of the new balcony. Roger has mentioned that he was anxious to have the sanctuary-level floor in place so he can cut the new door into the sanctuary so they can bring in the long beams and start work on the balcony. These are those beams. The new double doors will replace the right-most window (the one that once opened into the stairwell). That also explains why they stopped with only the south wall flat on the deck. They need a clean deck so they can lift the heavy beams and move them through the opening into the church.

The exposed end of the beam reveals its structure. The 5 1/8 inches is a bit less than the width of a 2×6. You can count the nine 2x6s that have been laminated with glue and pressure. The slight reduction from 5 ½ to 5 1/8 inches suggests the edges have been planed to give the beams a smooth surface.

June 16, 2021

Sanctuary Level Subfloor Finished

Yesterday’s rainstorm stopped work on the flooring at about 3pm. After drying things out a bit this morning they completed the laying the sanctuary level subfloor. This afternoon they completed the safety rail around the perimeter and around the elevator pit, and then got organized to frame more walls. In the photo below, black shirt is marking out the locations of interior walls. Grey shirt is kneeling beside the 2x4s that will become the top and bottom plates of the south wall. He’s marking the locations of the second floor windows, so they will align with the windows below and the gothic window above.

First thing tomorrow will be a concrete delivery to some formed spaces by the rear door of the addition, and to some small areas in the church basement – still getting the kitchen and office spaces ready for the big concrete floor pours. Then, I expect they will get a good start on the sanctuary level wall framing.

June 15, 2021

Laying the Subfloor for the Sanctuary Level

Yesterday they completed the blocking to reinforce the joists where more walls will stand. Then they got a start on laying the 4 x 8 sheets that will become the subfloor of the sanctuary level of the addition. Since the stack of OSB sheets and the table saw are on the ground, any cutting is done down below, and the sheets are handed up. Here a heavy, whole 4 x 8 sheet is lifted up. Roger keeps a close watch that the arrangement of sheets matches the spacing pattern of the joists. Note the safety rails on the perimeter.

The sheets are fastened with both glue and nails.  This should prevent squeaks and add to the strength of the floor.

The subflooring is 4 x 8 sheets of tongue and groove OSB wood. It takes a bit of encouragement to engage the tongues with the grooves. This is provided with a scrap board to protect the panel edge and a big sledgehammer. It rained hard just after I took this picture – perhaps ending the workday. At least it sent me home.

June 10, 2021

Still More Joists

Our architect Laurence Rose was in town on Tuesday and that morning he took the following picture from the third floor of the 1912 Center. His picture shows the rim joists and on the far side the first of the 40-foot long I-joists.

Now it is Thursday evening, and the I-joists are all in place, some running east/west, and some north/south. On the north edge you can see the blocking to reinforce where the second floor wall will stand. Similar blocking is just started on the south edge. The Golis carpenters work 10/4 – 10 hours a day and 4 days a week, so not much will happen on Friday. At the right edge of the picture, the green is one of 3 new stacks of subflooring and sheathing. Next week they will make a floor and frame some second floor walls.

June 9, 2021

More Joists

By mid-morning they had added the short joists that cantilever over the west entry and were measuring for more 40-foot-long ones. Can you see the long yellow tape?

The I-Joists are quite limber in this direction, but stiff when stood on edge.

This laminated plank will help support the outer end of the joists above the west door. It will be joined by another plank running the full width.

June 7, 2021

The First Floor Joists Installed

The process started this morning with rim joists around the perimeter of the building. This joist sticks out almost 2 feet, since the second floor will be cantilevered 2 feet over the sidewalk along the parking strip (giving us a bit more classroom space). The joists around the perimeter are 2×12 planks, while those that will go in the interior are 2×12 I-beams – both types made of engineered wood.

Most of the perimeter joists were in place by evening. The pattern of interior joists will be quite complex. They must span wide spaces such as the central hall, offices, and entry foyer, and they must extend out to support a cantilever. Depending on the space, some joists are spaced 16 inches apart (1/6 the length of a 4×8 sheet of plywood). Other times the spacing is 19.2 inches (1/5 the sheet length). The complexity of the pattern should be visible tomorrow.

June 3, 2021

A Bit of Concrete and More Walls

Several yards of concrete were delivered late Wednesday for the piers under the four new steel posts. Note that the posts are still a few inches above the pier surfaces, locked in place by 4 J-bolts down into the piers. Roger explained that the gap will be filled by a special hand-mixed non shrinking concrete. Ordinary concrete shrinks a bit as it cures – and would leave a small gap under each post and some oddly stressed concrete piers. When the slab is poured, it will cover about 4 inches of each post, locking everything in place.

Some of the concrete mix delivery went behind the addition to make footings for the emergency exit stairway. By tonight more forms had been added to make the foundation for a landing and some steps, and for piers to support the steel stairway above. On Monday more concrete will come for these foundation walls, and some more bits for the basement. It is also getting close to time to backfill against the north foundation and reconfigure the earth bank behind the addition.

The carpenters are also making good progress with wall framing despite temperatures as high as 94. At midday they were working on the wall around the elevator shaft.

By late afternoon the wall framing for the first floor is almost complete. To the left of the hall is the RE Director’s office, then two bathrooms and a mechanical room where the electrical panel will be, then a hallway to the rear door, followed by the elevator shaft and behind it a big storage room, and finally the stairs up to the sanctuary. Next week, expect to see the joists set in place for the second floor.

June 2, 2021

Its Hot, The Basement is Cooler

Its even hotter than yesterday, 99.3 degrees at 2:00 pm. I was in the cool basement for a meeting with the contractor people, so I took a few pictures. The four new steel posts are now suspended from the ceiling beams, ready for the concrete piers to anchor their bases. The floor above is now supported by the two temporary wood posts.

The rusted cast iron posts are still in place nestled in the kitchen wall – but they will be replaced very soon with steel.

The plumbers have made a start on kitchen piping. Apparently commercial dishwashers always discharge into little basins like this – perhaps as an air break? They worked hard to route the pipe around one concrete pier, so the basin would not end up embedded in concrete when they pour the kitchen slab.

This conduit has been here since they poured the slab outside some time ago. It will bring electricity from the utility room in the addition, under that slab, under the door to the basement, under the wood basement floor, now under the kitchen slab, and finally up to power the breaker box in the east sanctuary closet. I find it ironic that this conduit sits in exactly the same spot where I took the picture of the century old knob and tube wiring they found under the rotting kitchen floor.

Despite the heat, work did progress outside. They are getting ready to pour the footings that will support the metal fire stairway on the back of the addition. It might be cooler here than in the addition framing walls.

Roger showed me the first bit of building plan confusion I have seen. The picture below shows the secretary’s office windows, looking out to the foyer. The big pass-through window will have sliding glass doors. The two windows on the side are the problem. An earlier version of the plans showed the windows but a later version eliminated them. So, they ended up framed in. I don’t see any reason for these two windows, and the one on the right doesn’t exactly fit, so they will probably end up covered up with drywall.

June 1, 2021

More Interior Walls

When I dropped by just before noon the carpenters had erected two segments of the east wall. This wall was placed just a couple of inches from the church, leaving room for the required fire-retardant panels, making it a 2-hour firewall. This separation and the thickness of the foundation will make the door to Friendship Hall a 3-foot long tunnel.

By afternoon they were working on the north wall. I had been wondering how they would frame along the elevated parts of the foundation. Look closely and you can see that they are building a second frame wall of 2x4s just inside the concrete wall. This will make the first-floor north wall about 10 inches thick. Should be good insulation.

Looking down into the addition, there are offices on the right – the minister’s office closest, then the music director’s office, and last the secretary’s office. There are many walls yet to build on the left. The RE Director’s office is first, followed by a warren of small rooms – bathrooms, utility rooms and the elevator shaft.

At the far end are the entry and foyer. Look through the wide front entry doors to the spacious foyer. On your left is the window to the secretary’s office. A turn to the left brings you to the elevator door, and straight ahead are the steps to the sanctuary.

The temperature today peaked at 94 degrees, perhaps a record for this early in June. The carpenters kept working in the heat, but they didn’t object to a turn in the still cool basement. Several things were happening there – sorting out the sewer plumbing for the kitchen and installing the new steel columns. The columns were the more interesting. The top end of the steel pipe was fabricated as a yoke to cradle the beam. The bottom will be held by a concrete pier poured around it. Before the concrete pour the bottom hangs in space. Without bottom support it took two strong straps to pull the heavy pipe with the top yoke tight up against the beam so lag screws could hold it in place.

May 28, 2021

Memorial Day Break

I went down to the church not expecting to see much activity since this is the first of a four-day Memorial Day break. Roger was there, so I decided I wanted a picture of the new steel posts that will hold up the sanctuary floor. The two posts on the right will go to either side of the pass-through window into the kitchen and will replace the rusting cast iron posts that have supported the right-front sanctuary floor. Of the other four posts, two will replace the rusted cast iron ones that have supported the rear sanctuary floor, and the other two are new and will support the new balcony.

I also wanted a picture of the old cast iron post that was embedded in the wall near the door to the minister’s office. The bottom was about half rusted away. One of the old posts by the kitchen pass-thorough is about as badly rusted.

As I walked out into the addition with Roger, I noticed the anchors that fasten the wall bottom plate to the slab. These are powder driven nails – nails driven into place by a tool that uses the explosion of the powder in a 22 shell (minus the lead). Roger noted that he called the police to explain he was using this tool so if they got reports of gunshots they would know what was going on. These nails are only to initially hold the bottom plate in place. They will be augmented later by bolts epoxied into drilled holes.

I was considering going home to mow my lawn when a truck arrived with a load of lumber and I-joists. The bundles were unloaded with a boom, a tricky operation with the biggest bundle – 40 feet long, 4 feet wide and very heavy. The I-joists will become the floor of the sanctuary level of the addition.

May 27, 2021

Building the Interior Walls

Sometimes when a slab is poured the heavy slurry of concrete manages to move some of the plumbing that they worked so hard to get into the right place. If the dislocated pipe is one that must go inside a wall, then this is a problem. A 3-inch pvc pipe is about 3 ½ inches wide and a wall built out of 2x4s has about 3 ½ inches of space inside. The pipe in the picture below should go through walls up to the 3rd floor bathroom. However, the concrete shoved it about ¾ of an inch to the north. Bill is working with an impact drill to open a space on its south side so it can be moved a bit.

Remember the long 5/8 inch bolts that went 18 inches down into the foundation to tie to the rebar? These are required by code to protect against earthquake or wind damage. There is one earthquake bolt beside each window. A nut ties the metal bracket down to the bolt and four 3-inch lag screws fasten it to the triple studding beside each window. I like the little angle impact driver he uses to drive the lag screws in the tight space.

The north walls and doorways of the minister’s office and music director’s offices are being assembled on the slab. Note the large closets that will separate these two offices.

Note the differences between the interior and exterior walls. The exterior walls have a treated 2×6 in contact with the concrete and then an untreated 2×6 as a bottom plate. The interior walls have only the treated 2×4 as a bottom plate in contact with the concrete. Thus, the interior studs must be 1 ½ inches longer than the exterior ones.

I am realizing that in a few days I won’t be able to look down into the building from my aerial perch. When they are building the second floor, the view will be straight across the top – not down in. When they build the third floor, I’ll be looking up.

May 26, 2021

Framing the Pillars beside the Front Door

Much of Wednesday was devoted to framing the pillars on each side of the new front entrance. The one on the right is where Roger and I think there should be a small compartment for a time capsule. The idea is to document this moment in the history of UUCP. We will seal it up – to be opened in a decade or so. My contribution will be a volume of all these blog entries. What would you put in? Anybody willing to chair a committee?

The pillars are taking a considerable amount of work. As usual, the segments are assembled on the flat, and then lifted into place and fastened.

Wednesday they also completed the north wall framing. I am trying to imagine the math that has to run through their heads as they think about the different stud lengths as the wall progresses across the different foundation heights on the north wall. (The different heights result from the up-slope of the path behind the addition.) The cluster of plumbing marks the location of the bathrooms and utility room near the north door. In the corner to the right, imagine the landing half way up the stairs to the sanctuary level. Further right, the foundation of the church will probably be covered on Thursday as they frame the east wall a few inches away.

May 25, 2021

The First Wall Framing is Erected

I was late to the construction site, so when I arrived at 9:30 the first wall was already vertical. The frame for the south wall was assembled flat on the slab in four sections. What I didn’t see was the process of lifting the sections and bracing them in place. The sections sit on the sill, where nails and some of the longer bolts hold then in place. A 2×4 is nailed along the top to tie the sections together. Braces hold the wall vertical. Notice the gaps in the top 2×4 where the top 2x4s of the interior walls will fit to tie things together. Something I find intriguing are the massive 6×6 beams used as headers over the windows and doors. This addition is being built to last for a century like our old church.

Even as one worker was finishing up the framing of the south wall, another was assembling the pieces to build the next wall segment. This segment will run from the southwest corner to near the center door in the west wall.

I went to a meeting and when I returned at 2:00, two segments of the west wall were in place, leaving a gap where the door will enter. It had been drizzling lightly and there were puddles on the slab but the carpenters had continued their work.

When I returned at 4:30 the first segment of the north wall was standing in place. The carpenters were truing everything to vertical with a 6-foot level and adding braces at the corners to hold things in place, probably worrying that the recent high winds will pick up again. They will probably complete the exterior wall framing tomorrow. Which comes next – interior wall framing or exterior sheathing?

Meanwhile there are flowers in the wild plant bed – beside a pile of old subflooring and plumbing waiting to be hauled away. The growth is vigorous despite the dry spring.

May 24, 2021

The Wood Framing Starts

The framing started at the southeast corner. The sill is what attaches the walls to the foundation. Treated lumber is used for this, since there is possibility of moisture at the interface between concrete and wood. This is the footprint of the eastern of two pillars that form an arch to frame the main entrance door and the Gothic window above. Remember this vertical bit of foundation? It serves to buttress the corner of the church foundation.

This is the footprint of the other pillar. I think I have convinced Roger that the base of one of these pillars would be a good place to put a time capsule. The sill of treated wood follows all the turns of the foundation. A thin layer of foam plastic blocks drafts from sneaking between concrete and sill. Holes are drilled so the wood can fit over the bolts that were embedded in the concrete. With the addition of a big metal washer and a tightened nut the sill is tightly secured.

Once the sill was completed all the way around the addition, they started building walls this afternoon. It is easier to build walls on the flat and then tip them vertical. This will be the south wall of the first floor, complete with openings for windows and the main entry door. A nail gun is a great time saver. Hammers are mostly used to persuade things into alignment.

The south wall is taking shape. It is too long to tip up into place all at once. I think it is being made in at least four sections. I expect the plywood sheathing will be nailed in place to provide rigidity before the sections are tipped up .

It will be a profound change in the view as the walls are put in place. I am curious whether they erect the walls as they are finished or whether they assemble several walls before they erect any. I’m also contemplating the puzzle of the optimal order to construct the walls so there is floor space to build them in.

May 21, 2021

The Slab is Poured and Lumber Arrives

When I arrived this morning they had almost finished pouring 3 mixer truckloads of concrete. I was told that the pumper truck had arrived at 6:30 am. After yesterday’s half inch of rain, today was overcast and not much above freezing, but there was no more rain. The big crew waded in the concrete as they pushed it around and screeded it level.

Concrete slab poured. Some lumber coming in a few minutes.

There’s lots of hand work with a trowel, sometimes nearly on the level and sometimes draped over the stem wall.

Of course, most of the slab can’t be reached from the edge. I didn’t get a picture of the long-handled trowel – a 6 foot wide blade with a 20 foot long handle. I admired his skill with that thing. As the concrete started to set they ventured onto the slab cushioned by a pad to trowel around all the plumbing extending above the slab.

A smooth finished slab requires an aggressive working of the surface bringing up the cement-water slurry and pushing down the aggregate. As the slab gets firm enough to walk on the machines take over.

Remember the worrisome church foundation and the shotcrete they used to stabilize it? The next part of the plan to stabilize the connection between the church and the addition was the slab. Where the new slab butts against the foundation it is 12 inches thick across the width of the addition.

Our first delivery of lumber was brought to the site today. The lumber was purchased some months ago when prices had not yet jumped to present outrageous levels and was stored in a warehouse. Today’s delivery was for the first floor only.

With the slab now completed, framing the first floor should start next week. Work has also been proceeding out of sight in the basement. All four of the precarious cast iron posts have been removed – including a second one with a rusted hole. It will be good to have them out of there. The forms for the piers under the replacement posts may be ready for concrete next week. The replacement steel posts are being fabricated. The concrete floors for the kitchen and office spaces should be coming soon.

May 19, 2021

Almost Ready to Pour the Slab

Yesterday they dug some trenches in the compacted crushed rock. The trenches mark where interior walls will be built on top of the slab. With the trenches, the slab will be thicker under these bearing walls to support the weight of the stories above. Hand digging in the compacted crushed rock is a challenge, requiring both grub hoe, shovel, and a wheelbarrow to haul the gravel back out of the foundation area. Note the two different compactor machines – the plate compactor to use on the flat areas and the one they call the “jumping jack” used to firm up the trenches.

The next step is the vapor barrier. Here Roger and Bill unroll the 15 mill sheet plastic which will cover the entire surface. Given the trenches, the surface is uneven, so there is a lot of cutting, piecing and taping of joints. The workers are getting wet since there is a very light drizzle.

Then comes the rebar. There are ladders of rebar in each of the trenches and a grid of rebar across the entire surface. Everything is tied together with short lengths of twisted wire. The final touch is the little 2 inch cubes of cement that are placed here and there and wired in place to hold up the rebar so it stays in the middle of the slab when they pour the concrete on top of everything.

Another picture from my favorite perspective – this time with threatening storm clouds. The site is nearly ready for the concrete, but the weather forecast for tomorrow is a likelihood of rain, so Roger has requested that the concrete come on Friday. I heard a discussion about lumber delivery, so I suspect we may see some sills and walls begin to appear as soon as next week.

May 13, 2021

Support Posts and Plumbing

Work was proceeding both inside and outside today. The inside work focused on preparation for the concrete floors in the kitchen and office spaces. These areas include the support posts that hold up the floor above, and soon will hold up the balcony. Two posts were embedded in the kitchen wall, two inside the office wall and two new ones will be in what was office space. The four embedded posts are century-old cast iron ones.

The picture below is a close-up of the base of the nearest (dark) post in the picture above. It’s hard to see the rusted hole in the base of this post – big enough I could stick 3 fingers into the hole. I could feel the rust-thinned metal well beyond the actual hole. Old cast iron pipe is not only subject to rust, but also brittle. The contractor intends to replace the two posts in the kitchen and two embedded ones from the office wall with steel posts. The temporary wood posts in the first picture were installed to support the floor above while the cast iron posts are removed, and steel ones fabricated and installed.

The workers outside installed under slab plumbing.  The water and sanitary sewer lines go in trenches dug with a shovel and grub hoe into the compacted crushed rock – it looks like a nasty job. The array of vertical pipes must be precisely placed since each of them will be embedded in walls or attached to fixtures. Correcting pipe location is near impossible once concrete is poured around them. The subcontractor has just uncoiled 1” black tubing that runs the length of the addition, through the door and then fished under the basement floor. Both the church and addition will be served by a single water meter instead of the two that served the Yellow House and the church.

May 11, 2021

A Crushed Rock Bed in the Foundation

Much of today’s activity was spreading truckloads of crushed rock inside the new foundation walls. This will be the bed on which the slab will be poured – probably early next week. The layer of rock has been compacted and tested for compactness. Parts of the rock bed will now be disturbed again to add some plumbing, and to make some hollows along the paths of the interior walls so the poured slab will be thicker under the walls – then compacted again.

The slab will be about a foot thick where it butts against the bottom of the church wall to help stabilize the foundation. This thick slab edge will also be the base for the east wall of the addition, which will be built close to but not touching the church wall – separated by fire retardant panels.

I like these elevated views, especially with nice clouds. You will note that the area west of the foundation has not been backfilled. There will be more digging here in the next few days to run new water lines, electricity service and internet lines to and under the street.

May 10, 2021

Some Progress Both Inside and Outside

Work is progressing on the things that must be completed before the slab for the first floor can be poured. An asphalt coating has been applied to the exterior of the stem walls and panels of Styrofoam insulation are being positioned on the inside below the level of the slab. When this is completed the trenches, both inside and outside the stem wall will be backfilled with crushed rock – a process that has just started in this picture.

Eventually a layer of crushed rock will be spread from wall to wall, but first some under-slab plumbing must be completed. This will include water lines and the sanitary sewer line. This picture shows the beginnings of a trench for the sanitary sewer line. You can also see bits of wood forms that will block the slab concrete pour from flowing out the front door gap, the rear door opening, or into the elevator shaft.

In the church basement, the dirt in the kitchen area has been removed down to a firm clay base. This is hard work and slow, with a shovel and wheelbarrow since there is no way to get machinery into the basement. It remains to be determined whether the I-beam and cast-iron posts that span the pass-through opening will be judged adequate by the engineer. If not, they will also need to be replaced along with their cement piers.

The basement bathrooms have both been gutted. The space from the east one will be added to the kitchen, providing a second kitchen entry. The west bathroom will be rebuilt as a bathroom, but with the door returned to the west side where it was years ago, rather than opening directly into Friendship Hall.

Shovel, pick and wheelbarrow work has also excavated the level of the south end of Friendship Hall down to solid clay. The south wall dangles in the air after it was detached from the decayed floor joists. Just beyond the wheelbarrow, a partly dug hole will become a pier for the post to support the new balcony up in the sanctuary.

We had hoped to save the nice cabinet that was in the corner. Unfortunately, the decayed floor extended into the corner, so the cabinet had to come out. We may want to build a new cabinet in this corner, and perhaps library shelves on the wall to the left.

May 4, 2021

Concrete for the Elevator Base

I wandered down to the building site just in time to see another concrete pour – this time for the foundation under the new elevator. The concrete pump with the long boom is expensive, and this pour was quite small, so they decided to use gravity. The delivery truck backed up as close as they dared to the trench and extended its long spout. They positioned another 20 feet of trough on a temporary stand and let the mix flow.

A plasticizer had been added to the mix to make it flow more easily, but the troughs were flat enough that it was necessary to help it along with a push.

The plasticizer also helped the mix flow more readily in the forms, but a vibrator was still needed encourage the flow and avoid air pockets.

The kitchen is still being cleared of floor debris. These bricks and rocks were the supports for the floor of the kitchen. These are not real rocks – they are the concrete piers that helped hold up the floor. They apparently dug a hole about a foot wide and a few inches deep and mixed concrete by hand to fill it. The bricks generally failed to keep the joists from resting on the soil.

I couldn’t resist the flowers blooming in the bed west of the big front stairway – yellow lupine, tulips and native gooseberries. This bed will be preserved in the remodeling and will be expanded across most of the church front to protect the less than solid foundation.

May 3, 2021

The Realities of our Century-Old Church Building

Peeling back the coverings reveals all sorts of interesting issues in the church basement. This is what was under the office floors. The floor joists sit sometimes on beams and sometimes on dirt. The beams sit sometimes om concrete piers, sometimes on rocks, and sometimes are embedded in dirt. Up through the 1920s when the floor was added to the basement to make usable space, the roundish pier in the center held a post that helped support the sanctuary floor. Some of the floor joists seem to have missed the beams to either side, sitting on rocks instead.

Decay was inevitable where the beams or joists rested on dirt.

The area under the kitchen had similar problems – too much wood resting on dirt. Here, however, is another issue. These almost buried cement tiles probably once ran from a drain at the bottom of the stairs outside the door near the kitchen. The drain must have been closed many years ago since the tiles are in no condition to carry rainwater. The question is, do the cement tiles contain asbestos?

The northwest corner of the kitchen is also a mess. The original electric wiring was “knob and tube” wiring under the floor – typical of the 1920s. It is a wonder that it didn’t set the church on fire. The contractor is still considering the alternatives, but it seems likely that both the office area and the kitchen will end up with concrete floors.

The stairs to the basement were removed from this space. We had thought this space would be added to Fellowship Hall, but the wall is a bearing wall and cannot be removed. Add a floor and it will become a  12 foot by 30 inch closet – a perfect place to store chairs on wheeled carts.

April 30, 2021

The Forms are Stripped from the Stem Walls

This morning the forms were removed from the foundation walls, as shown in this photo by Al Poplawsky.

Looking across the site, you can see the gap in the foundation where the north exit from the ground floor will go. Once the north wall is backfilled, the door will open out onto a platform and then go up a few steps to reach the pathway behind the addition. The workers are building the forms for the foundation walls in the elevator pit.

This gives a better view of the elevator pit. There are several spots that will get concrete in the next pour.

We met this morning to discuss the configuration of the stage in the sanctuary, and the audio and video connections that will be required. The meeting included Pat Fuerst, Rod Sprague, Steve Flint, myself and Roger Shattuck, the site manager for the contractor, Figuring it all out is a complicated process.

April 29, 2021

The Stem Walls are Filled with Concrete

The pumper truck and cement truck arrived at a bit after 11am. They started pouring at the southeast corner. I was curious how they would do this so the fluid concrete wouldn’t just sluice down into the lower stem wall. They filled the lower part first and came back to fill the upper part 15 minutes later when the lower past had started to set up and wouldn’t flow.

A key quality control is the cement test. This guy has filled what looks a like a small pressure cooker with a sample of the cement. The test is to apply pressure and see how much the sample compresses. If it compresses too much, this means it has been mixed too vigorously incorporating air bubbles and will make weak porous concrete. This sample passed the test.

Here they are pouring the north stem wall, and since these forms are taller, several of them must work balanced on the top.  The man on the left has a vibrator, which he runs all the way down to settle the fluid concrete into the corners and eliminate air bubbles. The man in blue has the wireless remote strapped around his waist so he can control the overhead boom that delivers the concrete.

Concrete sets surprisingly quickly so it is a priority to allocate many hands to very quickly trowel it smooth and level. They are also checking the alignment of the forms and adjusting the braces when necessary. The fluid concrete is extremely heavy and capable of bowing the forms even with all the ties and braces.

I like this view of the site. The forms are full, the cement truck left a few minutes ago and the pump truck is about to leave. One of the last tasks is to insert J bolts part way into the wet cement to fasten down the wood sill of the new wall. It is easy to imagine the slab floor to be poured in this space, but there is lots to do first – more work on the elevator space, the under-slab plumbing, the compacted fill, and a lot more. It may be several weeks before we see the slab.

April 28, 2021

Putting Final Touches on the Foundation Forms

There are many details requiring attention before the forms are ready to be filled with concrete. Roger is still working on the earthquake tie-down bolts. Their placement must be measured carefully, or else a bolt will protrude upward through a door sill or vie for space with a wall stud. Note the vertical bit of the foundation forms on the right. This will make a pier to brace the corner of the church foundation where there was one big stone with little visible remaining support.

The plan is to pour the cement for the stem wall at 10 am tomorrow. They hope to pour the footing for the elevator at the same time, but they still have work to complete before then.

April 27, 2021

The Stem Walls Take Form

It takes a lot of work to put together the forms for the foundations or stem walls. Below you can see the plywood sides of the forms, stiffened by 2x4s, held in place by braces, and the two sides tied together by metal cross ties. They are not done yet. The workers have been measuring, checking dimensions and adjusting, because the structure above will come together much easier if the dimensions are exact. Among the last parts to be added are the ties that will bind the foundations and the walls above together more tightly in the event of a future earthquake.

The foundation walls are different heights. The south and west walls are lower, near the elevation of the interior floor. The north foundation wall is higher – somewhat higher at the west end, and then even higher near the church. The backfill and walkway behind the addition will ramp up gradually to the level near the back fence. There are a number of things to be done before the forms are complete, but they may be ready for city inspection and a concrete pour late tomorrow, or else Thursday morning.

April 24, 2021

The Plywood Forms for the Stem Walls

Yesterday the forms were removed from the footings and new forms were started for the stem walls (or foundation walls). These will be 2 to 3 feet high, and high enough to cover the vertical reinforcing bars now covered with the orange caps. It will take a while to put the plywood forms in place and perhaps longer to put in place the plumbing and electrical conduits that need to pass through the foundation. The cement pour will happen Tuesday or Wednesday.

April 22, 2021

The First Pour of Concrete – the Footings

The concrete pump arrived a bit before 10 am. This vehicle has a powerful pump and a very long arm that can reach clear across the building to disgorge liquid concrete into the footing forms. The concrete truck arrived a few minutes later.

A hand or two on the heavy hose guides most of the stream into the footing forms.  The shovel evens out the fill and settles it into the forms.

Two workers, one on each side, use trowels to smooth the surface. If the form is filled too high, a bit is flicked off to the side.

Al Poplawsky took this picture. The workers are filling the forms in the area where the new front door will be. The orange caps cover the sharp ends of the reinforcing rods as a safety measure. In a few days the rods will be incorporated into the stem walls (foundation walls), to be poured on top of the footings and 2 to 3 feet tall.

The pour went very fast – two truckloads totaling 17 cubic yards of concrete was pumped into forms in less than half an hour. It was not until the process was almost done that I noticed this guy standing around at the edge of the action. I finally realized that he was controlling the pumping truck and the great long arm – with a wireless joystick belted to his waist.

April 21, 2021

Footing Forms & Progress Inside the Church

The workers spent most of the day completing the forms for the footings, including conduits for electrical wiring and some plumbing connections. The first loads of cement will probably arrive sometime tomorrow morning.

Things are happening inside the church. The stairs to the basement have been removed, and the hole has been patched with framing and subflooring. This is the corner where the door will enter from the new foyer in the addition. Without the stairs this leaves a long narrow closet down below, which we will probably use for chair and table storage.

I am sure I needed a historic picture of the shuffleboard markings under the secretary’s office carpet before it gets sanded away.

The stage at the front of the sanctuary is now being framed. If you look closely, you might see the shims under the frame planks. The old floor is almost 2 inches lower at the west end of the stage relative to under the east end. With shims, the new stage will be level. There remains the question of whether a front railing is needed. There will be handrails for the rear ramp and for the front steps. The stage will be about eighteen inches high, so a front railing is not required by code. The spindles were saved from the demolished railings which could be used in a front railing. Eighteen inches is a big jump – or fall – but a front railing would impede visibility.

April 20, 2021

A Building Permit and Forms for the Footings

I don’t have a picture for this important piece of paper – our building permit. The work to this point has been based on an excavation and demolition permit. The issuance of the actual building permit by the City of Moscow has been slowed by the many details and by the pandemic, but today we got our approval. That’s a call for celebration.

The picture below shows the footprint of the addition marked in white paint on the compacted crushed rock base. The location for the west door is visible. The white 6” pipe will be buried beneath the footing to make a passage for the water supply for the fire suppression system. There will be other utility connections – some above and others below the footings. The tripod device is the laser level machine, to get all the footings in line.

The forms for the cement footings are held in place by 3’ long metal stakes driven with a hammer into the compacted crushed rock. The stakes are positioned with a string line tied at the corners of the addition.

Here the 2×12 wood plank forms are in place. The Moscow building inspector needs to approve the forms, and then metal reinforcing rods and sill bolts will be put in place. Depending on timing, the cement may be poured tomorrow or Thursday. The footings in the bottom of the elevator shaft will probably be poured at the same time.

There are still sounds of demolition coming from the church building. The stairway from foyer down to the basement is now gone. I have not seen it yet, but I understand that when they demolished the secretary’s office, they found remnants of the shuffleboard lines that characterized the building’s tenure as a senior center. I need to document that history with a photo.

April 16, 2021

I Can See the Footprint of the Addition

The big yellow machines have completed a trench around the perimeter of the addition and filled it with crushed rock, which is moistened and then compacted. Early next week they will build forms on top of the crushed rock layer and then fill them with concrete to make the footing of the building. In this picture note that they have excavated a hole where the elevator mechanism will extend below the level of the first floor. The elevator hole is partly obscured by the top of the excavator arm. Note also that the little structure that once housed the door from Friendship Hall to the patio has been removed.

I was intrigued by their device that measures the degree of compaction of the moistened crushed rock to be sure it is adequate to support the weight of the new building. The vertical probe is driven into the compacted crushed rock, then removed to be read in the yellow console. I didn’t understand either the physics or the mathematics of his explanation, since he was getting readings of 105% to 110% when the readings had to be at least 100%.

April 14, 2021

Progress both Outside and Inside

I took the picture below from my favorite perch – from the top of the fire escape stairs on the McConnell Mansion. Note several things. Most important, the trench for the north wall of the addition has been dug and filled with compacted crushed rock. The reinforced concrete footing will be poured on top of the gravel base. The jog to the north is where the north door from the first floor will exit. Note also that the church exit door to what was the patio has been mostly removed. It was well made and will take a jackhammer to sever the rest of it from the foundation. Also note the dumpster full of rubble from the demolition at the rear of the sanctuary.

In late afternoon today I managed to get a better view inside the sanctuary. Again, it is amazing how big the space seems when the rear is opened up. It will be interesting to see how that perception of space changes as the balcony is added.

April 13, 2021

Jetcrete to stabilize the Church Foundation

Jetcrete, which is also called shotcrete, gunite or sprayed concrete, is used for a wide range of construction purposes. It was applied today to stabilize the foundation of the church. The mixed concrete is pumped through a 3-inch hose and air flows under 180 psi through a second smaller hose. They meet at the nozzle and are propelled out to coat the surface and fill voids.  As the concrete begins to set, multiple layers are applied.

Scaffolding was used to reach the top of the foundation. Most of the time he carries the hose over his shoulder. Imagine the weight of the 3- inch hose full of liquid concrete.

When they moved to the kitchen, a train of four men, each 10 feet apart with the heavy hoses over their shoulders marched through the door. He filled the old kitchen windows, covering the plywood backing and rebar mesh to a depth of perhaps 8 inches. The entire north and east kitchen walls received a coat.

I was not in the basement very long taking pictures, since there was lots of cement dust in the air, and I try to stay out of the way. However, I was there long enough to marvel at the big room with the office walls removed. It is going to make a great Fellowship Hall. I was amazed how big the room felt, and how nice it was to have the natural light from the three south windows.

Demolition has moved to the sanctuary. Because work was going on I couldn’t look inside, but I did peek in through the east window adjacent to the handicapped ramp. It is hard to see much since I was looking through the screen, but a man on a scaffold is removing the upper part of the wall between sanctuary and foyer. I expect the wall will be mostly gone tomorrow. Outside, I expect footings and foundations will begin to take shape soon.

April 12, 2021

Preparing for the Jetcrete Treatment

Today was mostly devoted to preparing for the jetcrete application to stabilize the foundation walls. This will be applied tomorrow on the west exterior wall, and the north and east interior walls of the Kitchen. The kitchen window wells have been blocked with plywood, which will be coated on the inside with a thick layer of jetcrete – and across the adjacent walls to tie them all together.

They are preparing the exterior foundation.

The west window of the foundation will be blocked by the addition. Note the rebar used in this window and the windows in the kitchen to tie things together.

Demolition has been going on in the office spaces in the basement. Since the basement was off limits when I was there, I took a picture of the basement walls now in a dumpster.

April 9, 2021

Dealing with the Foundation of the Church

Most of the past week has been spent dealing with the realities of our century old church building. In the picture below you will note the absence of the monster vacuum machine. It has completed the removal of the toxic insulation from the attic. It is good to have all the hazardous materials gone – that was a very noisy machine. The other thing you can see in the picture is the exposed foundation where the addition will attach to the church.

The picture below shows what the contractors found as they dug around the foundation. The upper white line is the level of the floor in the Fellowship Hall and will be the top of the concrete slab floor in the addition. The lower white line, just 6 inches down, is the bottom of the boulders that make up the foundation wall. There is no footing, just dirt below the foundation rocks. Digging 36 inches down below frost line with heavy and vibrating machinery adjacent to such a foundation is to risk collapse. Fortunately, there are some fixes to proceed with the project.

Below is a closeup of the foundation wall. It’s a classic rock wall from a hundred years ago, except that if it ever had mortar between the rocks, it has now dissolved away. A way to stabilize such a wall is to coat it with shotcrete, or sprayed concrete. This is concrete sprayed form a hose at high pressure and may include a fiber as reinforcing. Next Tuesday the exposed wall will get a layer of shotcrete which should penetrate the cracks and stabilize the wall so they can proceed with the foundation of the addition. The window will also be closed by shotcrete before it is covered by the addition.

Since the company that does the shotcrete will be here on Tuesday, it’s a good time to have them do the kitchen also. There’s little evidence of mortar around the old window wells in the north wall of the kitchen. The idea is to remove the lid, put in a sheet of plywood as a form, spray the plywood and the rest of the wall with shotcrete, and fill the outer part of the old window well with crushed rock.

The picture above is the window well on the left and the one below is on the right. The right one is clearly in the worst shape. Several big rocks have already fallen away. This one will require some bracing and perhaps a steel post to reinforce the right edge. Both the north and east walls of the kitchen will be sprayed with shotcrete. I guess it is reassuring that the shotcrete guy indicated that he had worked on rock walls that were in worse shape than ours.

April 1, 2021

Filling the Hole

Much of today was occupied filling the basement hole. The hole must be filled to a few inches below the level of the floor in Fellowship Hall to make a base for the concrete first level floor of the addition. This means about 3 feet of crushed rock, compacted to make a stable base. That’s a lot of truckloads of rock.

After the loads are dumped in a pile, they are spread around with the monster excavator machine. I never tire of watching the delicate precision of the operator. It’s almost as if he uses the long appendage of the machine as an extension of his own hands.

As each layer of gravel is added, the compactor tamps it down. This extremely heavy roller-vibrator is operated with a controller on the end of a 10-foot cord.

The excavator was busy during its free time between loads of rock. It removed the soil and shrubbery against the southwest corner of the foundation of the church. This is the first time in a century that this rock wall has seen the light of day. Soon they will remove the entry way between the patio and Fellowship Hall. The addition will be built tight against the west wall of the church.

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.

Monday, 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.

Wednesday, 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.

Tuesday, 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?

Wednesday, 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.

Building Update, March 3, 2021

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.

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

Building Update: November 19, 2020

As we previously reported, the Moscow City Board of Adjustment granted our church, on September 29, a Conditional Use Permit for our remodel and construction project, as well as the Variance for parking requirement if we construct a balcony. We received bids for the work and intended to accept a bid in early November. But we’ve had to put this process on hold, because our neighbors filed an appeal to the Board of Adjustment’s decision. That appeal will be heard by the Moscow City Council at its meeting on December 7. Based on the prior approval of our permits, we hope to move forward promptly after that meeting.

Members of the Capital Campaign Building Committee are reaching out to these neighbors to understand their concerns. We have adjusted the location of the retaining wall north of the annex to protect the neighbors’ tree roots. As soon as the appeal has been heard by the City Council, we can move forward with bid acceptance and subsequent construction. We will continue to keep the congregation informed about progress towards our construction project, including the results of the December 7 City Council meeting.

Past Videos on this topic are available on the YouTube UUCP Building Updates playlist. Questions and comments can be directed to Al Poplawsky,, chair, or other members of the Building Committee: Mary DuPree, Mary Jo and Joel Hamilton, Steve Flint, Archie George, John Pool, Bill Webb, and Pat Fuerst.

Update from the Capital Campaign Committees September 2, 2020

After many meetings and revisions, the architectural plan for the addition and remodel have been sent to the City of Moscow for a Conditional Use Permit (CUP), and this permit will allow us to proceed with construction. At this time, the plan has also been sent to several contractors for bids. Bids from contractors will be opened on approximately September 17. We hope to award the contract by the end of September but that would require covering any additional funds needed if the quote exceeds funds pledged. We have a 45-day “price hold” during which we can do additional fund raising if that is needed to cover the alternate (optional) quotes, such as the proposed balcony.

If all goes according to this plan, construction could begin before the end of the year. The remodeling of the current church would be first. That can proceed during the winter and spring without interfering with church activities, obviously because nothing is happening there (except Summer is running the office!) because of the pandemic. Excavation and removal of the Yellow House would begin next year.

Other recent activities:

1. The legal agreement with the County has been finalized. The County owns the McConnell Mansion and the agreement covers shared use of N-S and E-W alleyways, as well as parking between the McConnell Mansion and new parking places on the west side of the new addition.

2. The “Geotechnical Evaluation” of the church property was conducted and no sub-surface problems were discovered. The two sites were backfilled but not restored.

The base bid includes construction of the three floor addition, foundational elements for a balcony, and wiring for the solar panels. The base bid also includes going 100% electric, no fossil fuels! Alternate/optional quotes will be provided by contractors for (1) installing the sanctuary balcony, (2) final finishing of the third floor of the addition, and (3) finishing the church exterior siding replacement (part of south, east and north sides), and replacing the south facing window in the church foyer. Regarding solar panels, we plan to install these as a separate contract at a later date because of offers from congregational members.

If we were to install the balcony, which contains seating for an additional 43 people, the city requires that we provide an additional 11 parking spaces. Since that is not practical, we are applying for a “Variance” that would allow us to install the balcony without the additional parking. The balcony construction will only proceed if the contractor quote for this optional project is something we can afford and if our Variance application is approved by the city.

Capital Campaign Finance Update: The original cost estimate for the building addition was $1.68 million, and pledges are presently within 2% of the total needed. In addition, approximately two dozen individuals have indicated that they still intend to pledge, or that in the future they may be able to increase their pledge. So we are optimistic about

meeting this basic cost estimate. We encourage anyone who has not yet submitted their pledge to do so. Donations thus far have been strong. A total of $753,600 has been donated and expenditures are $21,650.

Possible Sequence of Events:

1) Presently awaiting City approval of Conditional Use Permit. Subsequent approval of the Variance would allow us to proceed with balcony if that is financially practical.

2) Bid opening, approximately September 17. If bids exceed pledges, we need to secure additional pledges and/or loan before awarding the contract, which we hope to do before the end of September.

3) Award the contract (late September).

4) 45 day price hold to decide on whether we can proceed with alternate (optional) quotes such as the balcony.

5) Indoor work, remodeling of current church might then begin at the end of 2020 or beginning of 2021. Prior to this, we have to remove and store everything inside the current building. We also have to make arrangements for operation of the offices during construction.

6) Removal of Yellow House and excavation for the addition might begin later in 2021.

7) Other items to do at appropriate times include (1) Remove and store pavers that are used in the current patio, to be re-used, and (2) Rescue native plants if those beds must be demolished.

An earlier draft of the architectural plans is mounted on posters in the church foyer. You are free to visit and look at them during Summer’s office hours, Monday & Friday, 10-3, Tuesday & Thursday 2-4. Please wear masks if you come to visit.

A complete report is available on the UUCP website,

Questions and comments can be directed to Al Poplawsky,, chair, or other members of the Building Committee: Mary DuPree, Mary Jo and Joel Hamilton, Steve Flint, Archie George, John Pool, Bill Webb, and Pat Fuerst.

May 20, 2020 update from the Capital Campaign Finance and Building Committees:

The construction plans for the addition and remodel are moving ahead. Many architectural changes previously suggested by congregation members have been made. The Building Committee met with the architect Laurence Rose May 13 and we are going through another round of revisions. We expect to receive a revised draft of the plans on June 8. After committee review of these plans, the architectural design team will begin the final phase of construction plans.

The most recent architectural plans are mounted on posters in the church foyer. You are free to visit and look at them during Summer’s office hours, Monday & Friday, 10-3, Tuesday & Thursday 2-4. Please wear masks if you come to visit. There will be a limited number of printed copies available to take home.

A “Geotechnical Evaluation” of the church property will be conducted very soon. A backhoe will dig pits at two sites — one in the front lawn and one to the west of the Yellow House — to test the subsurface soil conditions as necessary to determine structural design parameters. The sites will be backfilled but will remain disturbed until excavation and construction begins late this year or next year.

Capital Campaign Finance Update: The original cost estimate for the building addition was $1.68 million, and pledges are presently within 2% of the total needed. In addition, approximately two dozen individuals have indicated that they still intend to pledge, or that in the future they may be able to increase their pledge. So we are optimistic about meeting this basic cost estimate. We encourage anyone who has not yet submitted their pledge to do so. Donations thus far have been strong. A total of $753,600 has been donated and expenditures are $21,650.

Before excavation and construction can begin the following items must be finished*

  1. Finalize architectural plans (late July or early August)
  2. Finalize legal agreement with county on shared use of alleyways and parking.
  3. Obtain permits from the city
  4. Finalize plans for the Yellow House: either removal following sale, or salvage and demolition. Demolition is far more likely. We need to plan for removal and storage of contents of the Yellow House. The Yellow House will not be disposed of until we have a contract for excavation and construction.
  5. Remove and store pavers that are used in the current patio, to be re-used.
  6. Rescue native plants if those beds must be demolished (likely).

*Numbers 1-3 must be completed before we request bids from contractors, so the earliest the request for bids might go out is in July. If bids fall within our pledged funding levels, then excavation and items 4-6 can proceed.

The timeline: is difficult to predict, but it seems likely that the earliest we would begin excavation is this fall.

Agreement with County mentioned above: The county owns the McConnell Mansion and we are close to finalizing a legal agreement for shared use of N-S and E-W alleyways, as well as parking between the McConnell Mansion and new parking places on the west side of the new addition.

Questions and comments can be directed to Al Poplawsky,, chair, or other members of the Building Committee: Mary DuPree, Mary Jo and Joel Hamilton, Steve Flint, Archie George, John Pool Bill Webb, and Pat Fuerst.

March 5, 2020 Update from the Capital Campaign Finance and Building Committees:

The original cost estimate for the building addition was $1.68 million, and pledges are presently within 2% of the total needed. In addition, approximately two dozen individuals have indicated that they still intend to pledge, or that in the future they may be able to increase their pledge. So we are optimistic about meeting this basic cost estimate. We encourage anyone who has not yet submitted their pledge to do so.

The Capital Campaign Building Committee is moving ahead with the architects to incorporate changes in the building plan based on the congregation’s input. If all goes as planned, we will send out for bids in early June, and if bids come in within budget, then construction could begin as early as July/August with completion by mid – 2021. That would be the earliest completion date we might hope for.

This summer, there will be considerable work needed to vacate the Yellow House — removal & storage of its contents – and then demolition. We will try to keep the congregation updated as the project moves along.

Rachel’s feasibility study presentation video:





UUCP Building Project Steering Committee (BPSC)

Update for Congregation July 14, 2019

Recent and Current activities:

  • We have approved site and building plans with architect Laurence Rose and graphic designer John Paul, and are awaiting final drawings and an updated cost estimate. These plans are not final and are subject to review and changes following input from the congregation in August and early September.
  • We are working on a shared parking agreement with Latah County, which manages the McConnell Mansion and grounds. The city requires us to provide additional, on-site parking spots since we are adding seating in the sanctuary, and this parking agreement would make that possible.

In the near future:

  • August: Present the current plan to the congregation, followed by weekly meetings, discussion of plans, and possible changes needed.
  • September 14-15: Rachel Maxwell, who visited us in October, 2018, will visit again to gauge more exactly our potential for fundraising.
  • Late 2019 or early 2020, apply for a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) from the city which is required for any construction. We may also need to apply for a variance for parking regulations if we choose one of the plans to be discussed.
  • Initiation of construction would follow if we have a successful capital fundraising campaign and a contractor bid is within our means.

A previous report from the BPSC is posted below.

April 14, 2019

Updates on our future remodeling of the church and education wing

A Brief History:

  • Based on a perceived growing need for RE and worship space, in 2015-2016, a building task force led by Al Poplawsky developed four alternatives for the future of our buildings. Architect Laurence Rose provided draft architectural plans.
  • During March-May, 2018, input was solicited from the congregation regarding possible future building options. A survey was conducted and 88% of survey respondents chose “Alternative 3” as their first or second choice of the four options. The Alternative 3 plan was to keep our church building, make a major addition to it, expand the sanctuary, and remove the Yellow House.
  • In October, 2018, UU Stewardship consultant, Rachel Maxwell visited UUCP and met with staff, the UUCP Board, and Building task force; she provided guidelines for proceeding with changes to our buildings.
  • At the December 2018 Annual Congregational Meeting, we approved staying at our current location.
  • In January, 2019, the Board of Trustees solicited participation from the congregation for two committees: what is now called the Building Project Steering Committee, and the Capital Campaign Committee.

The UUCP Building Project Steering Committee (BPSC) is chaired by Al Poplawsky and has met four times between February 27 and March 27, 2019, including one meeting with architect Laurence Rose.

Items and issues discussed: Our discussion with the architect and as a committee began by reviewing draft floor plans developed by Laurence Rose and Joel Hamilton in 2016. Items discussed included how the sanctuary would be expanded while retaining current aesthetics, where parking would be located, elevator and ADA accessibility, safety and security, new heating system, play area, a commercial grade kitchen, and Fellowship Hall expansion. The plan is to utilize green technology to the maximum extent we can afford, starting with choices that have a near-term return on the investment like insulation, LED lighting, and passive and active solar. If sufficient funds are raised, additional green technology will be added. The new space will include accommodation for Family Promise and other community outreach efforts.

Architectural plan: A survey of land boundaries was conducted recently and Laurence Rose is now developing an architectural plan that he will provide by June. The congregation will review this and vote on the project this summer, if all goes as planned. The Capital Campaign will begin in earnest at this time as well, when there is a cost estimate.

BPSC members: Joel Hamilton, Bella Pekie, John Pool, Pat  Eaton, Donna Bradberry, Stephan Flint, Krista Kramer, Mary DuPree, Bill Webb, Pam Arborgreen, and Pat Fuerst.


Building plan and construction: Joel Hamilton and Pat Eaton

Furnishings and aesthetics: Donna Bradberry

Communications: Bella Pekie, John Pool, Pat Fuerst

Finance: Bill Webb

Capital Campaign liaison: Mary DuPree

Board of Trustees liaison: Mary DuPree

Meetings: The BPSC meets the 2nd & 4th Wednesday at 5 pm in sanctuary.  A link to meeting minutes and other pertinent information will be provided on the UUCP website.

Presentation: Kurt Rathmann (Pat and Dan’s son) will give a presentation about Green construction on April 17 at 7 p.m. in Fellowship Hall following a 6 p.m. Feed of Dreams hosted by the Green Sanctuary Committee. It would behoove us all to hear what Kurt has to say.