Major renovations will begin at historic Old Frontenac churchFor 143 years, a small white church has sat on the same hillside in Old Frontenac, welcoming parishioners and guests to Sunday worship services.
By: Regan Carstensen, The Republican Eagle
For 143 years, a small white church has sat on the same hillside in Old Frontenac, welcoming parishioners and guests to Sunday worship services.
Parts of the church are original and others have seen improvements or updates, but during the next seven years Christ Episcopal Church will experience its biggest renovations to date. And when work is finished, the church will actually bear a stronger resemblance to the way it was in 1868.
"We decided to try to capture the original structure," said Brad Stone, a church member.
To do that, the church will receive restorations to its roof, siding, stained-glass windows and landscaping, an undertaking Stone estimates will cost about $250,000 when all is said and done. With only $20,000 of that raised so far, the entire project isn't expected to come to an end for several more years.
"We want to be done by 2018," Stone said. "We're working up to our 150th anniversary."
The first step of the multi-phased renovation will be to replace the asphalt shingles on the roof with cedar shakes - the material used when the church was built in 1868. Stone said changes to the roof will get started within one month and should only take about a week to complete.
"Then we're going to go after the siding, in conjunction with the windows," Stone explained.
Each of those renovations will take longer to complete because work will be done on one side of the building at a time to allow the church to keep holding its regular worship services every Sunday.
But Stone doesn't mind the plan for slow progress.
"It'll help us afford it," he said.
Different community volunteers have come together to form the Christ Church Old Frontenac Preservation Partnership and are beginning to raise money for the projects through different activities.
Garage sale, more
Fundraisers in the works include the sales of bat houses, hand-painted Christmas ornaments and greeting cards that feature a local artist's watercolor painting of Christ Episcopal.
The church also will take part in the 100-Mile Garage Sale May 5-8.
Preservation Partnership volunteers are asking individuals for donations to be included in the church's garage sale. Along with the fundraisers, the Preservation Partnership members will solicit grants and ask for donations from private foundations to help cover renovation costs.
Only about 20 families are members of the church, but with support from the community and surrounding areas, they have faith Christ Episcopal will be able to afford its renovations little by little.
"There are a lot of people who love Frontenac," Stone said.
When more money is obtained, work on the siding and windows can begin. The church has never been re-sided in its existence. Instead, it was continually re-painted to have a fresh appearance. But multiple coats over the past 143 years no longer look fresh and are peeling and chipping all around the building.
While Stone said he would have liked to use the original siding for another hundred years, he expects brand new materials will be necessary.
"It's likely that we're going to have to replace it," he said. "And if we do, we're going to completely replicate it."
For the windows, Stone said the church plans to hire a stained-glass restoration company out of Winona, Minn. When the building is complete, landscaping will top off the entire restoration project.
What: Christ Episcopal Church restoration project
Fundraisers: Garage sale at the Chateau Frontenac chapel May 5-8; bat houses for $50, order by calling 651-345-5042
Worship services: 9:30 a.m. Sundays at Christ Episcopal Church, Old Frontenac
Donations can be mailed to: Christ Church Old Frontenac, P.O. Box 58, Frontenac, MN 55026
More information will soon be available at www.christchurcholdfrontenac.org.