By Meg O’Neil
Parishioners and community members gathered at the Atlantic Beach Club on Monday, May 21 to kick off Emmanuel Church’s $1-million “Forever Emmanuel” Capital Fund Campaign to help repair the 112-year old house of worship.
“We’ve been using the current building since 1902,” said Reverend Dr. Anita Schell-Lambert, who arrived at Emmanuel in 2010. “The building’s served us very well, but there are areas that need to be fixed.”
The church, which sits on the corner of Dearborn and Spring Streets, is considered one of Newport’s architectural treasures and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. However, time had taken its toll, and the vestry compiled a prioritized list of repairs as part of its campaign fund.
Among the areas in need of immediate action was the church’s west wall, which over the years had begun tipping outward causing major water damage to the building’s interior. The problem was revealed after a $500,000 roof repair in 2010 failed to stem the flow of water into the building. It was then that engineers determined that the west wall was never intended to last 100 years, installed only as a temporary structure while the church was still under construction. Immediate repairs were deemed necessary.
According to Schell-Lambert, the $138,200 project was completed earlier this month by Ralph Gillespie from Crocker Architectural Sheet Metal, a group that specializes in historical restoration.
Other projects on the list include a $168,000 repair to the community hall’s roof, repairing aged stucco on the community hall exterior ($52,500), adding a second mandatory fire exit to the basement’s gymnasium ($60,000), and much, much more.
Schell-Lambert says reaching the $1 million goal could take 3 – 5 years, and will be accomplished through the congregation’s financial support, community partners, and grants and foundations.
“The cool things about this campaign are the new friendships that we’ve formed with people who have helped save our church,” she said. “There’s a special energy around Emmanuel because of all this constant activity.”
Members of the community are invited to a special clean-up day at the church on Saturday, May 26 from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m.