Inside of iconic Sewickley church to undergo renovation
By Joanne Barron
Published: Wednesday, Dec. 25, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
It has been more than 100 years since the sanctuary at Sewickley United Methodist Church has been remodeled, and the congregation — hoping to have help from the community — is planning to change that.
The $610,000 project will begin Dec. 30 and take 12 to 14 weeks to complete, said Hurst Bartley, chairman of the church's Building of Faith committee.
The renovation includes a rebuild of the church's Moller pipe organ, installed in 1909.
The sanctuary was built in 1886.
“This will be the largest renovation our church has seen in its 150-plus history,” said church member Sandra Lane of Sewickley.
The project has been in the planning stages for two years, Bartley said.
About $400,000 will come out of the church budget for the project, he said.
The 369 members of the congregation have been asked to donate $200,000 to the project over the next five years. So far, $170,000 has been pledged. Church officials also are looking to the community for other donations.
“SUMC is considered by many to be an integral landmark in the Village,” Lane said.
“Our church has existed on the corner of Broad and Thorn (streets) since Sewickley's inception,” he said. “Thorn Street is named after Rev. Charles Thorn — one of our first ministers.”
The earliest meetings of the congregation date back to the early 1800s, when people were meeting in their homes for worship and the area was a frontier, Bartley said.
The congregation began to meet in the 1839 at the same site where the current church sits but in a different building.
The existing church was dedicated in 1885.
The community came together in the 1990s to help fund a capital project to improve the clock tower, a Village landmark at the church.
“It is fair to say that the people of Sewickley — whether they are members of our church or not — have an attachment to our church, and we are actively seeking their support,” Bartley said.
Another important part of the church is the pipe organ, made possible by a donation from Pittsburgh industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. The M.P. Moller Organ Co. manufactured the instrument.
“The ‘Carnegie pipes' still stand to this day; however, the organ is in need of a major rebuild,” Bartley said.
The working parts of a pipe organ last about 40 years, and the last rebuild occurred in 1963, Bartley said.
The sanctuary, which has not undergone a major remodeling since 1910 and still houses the original 1885 chancel platform, also needs an update, Bartley said.
“Styles of worship, technology and accessibility requirements have changed in the last 100 years and congregations have become increasingly sophisticated in their needs and expectations,” he said.
While the sanctuary is being remodeled, services will be held in the Simpson Room — the church's fellowship hall.
Included in the project are expanding and refinishing the chancel platform; removing the inclined floor of the nave; removing the pews for repair and reconfiguration to add more space; eliminating stairwells built into the entrances when the floor was raised to help those with poor mobility; improving lighting; adding air conditioning; incorporating a permanent control booth for audiovisual purposes to blend into the room's architecture; installing new flooring; and painting the walls.
Joanne Barron is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-324-1406 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- ‘Soup for you!’ as beloved TV grump visits Sewickley
- Edgeworth church helps build Habitat home in Beaver County
- Ohio Township-based Family Guidance CEO follows mission, lifts at-risk youth
- Google Hangouts among ways Aleppo officials’ want to visibility
- Port Authority slightly adjusts Sewickley Valley service