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

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.