Historical Fund Grant Helps Local Church Celebrate German Roots

Oriega, Marcy. "Historical Fund Grant Helps Local Church Celebrate German Roots."Reporter-Herald, 5 April 2008.

A classic example of Gothic Revival architecture in Loveland shines bright as new following a six-month-long restoration effort.

Weathered by time and the elements, the almost century-old First Congregational Church at Lincoln Avenue and Eighth Street was in need of extensive restoration.

Thanks in part to a $165,530 grant from the Colorado State Historical Fund and $56,472 in donations from church members, phase 1 of the renovation process is complete.

Members of the congregation will host a rededication ceremony at 10 a.m. Sunday, with a potluck to follow. The community is invited to attend the special service.

The church is much brighter now, and we want to celebrate what weve accomplished, said Cindy Sauer, church trustee and restoration committee member.

The history of the church is rich in German culture and heritage.

Fleeing persecution from Russia, farmers of Volga German descent emigrated to the United States at the turn of the 20th century and settled in the Midwest. Many were drawn to the Loveland area to work in the sugar beet industry.

Several of the early immigrants organized the original First German Congregational Church and erected a building at 10th Street and Lincoln Avenue in 1903. Within a few years, the congregation grew to more than 250 members, and a larger building was constructed at its present site in

Portions of the old structure were moved to the new building, as was the steel alloy bell, which still rings each Sunday.

In the late 1950s, the church was renamed the First Congregational Church, reflecting the changing demographics of the congregation.

Since the renovation project started in September, contractors, architects, electricians, masons and volunteers have worked over the entire exterior of the tan brick building.

The church, which stands two stories high with a 20-foot bell tower, has been cleaned from top to bottom. The brick has been remortared and repaired, and missing bricks were replaced.

Because mortar used at that time was delicate, a cleaning solution recommended by the State Historic Fund had to be used, Sauer said.

The original leaded stained-glass windows, crafted in Germany and painstakingly shipped to Loveland in the early 1900s, have been polished to reveal vivid rainbow hues and patterns. Also, laminated glass panels were installed outside to protect the windows.

According to Sauer, some members have adopted many of the 30 windows, usually in memory of a loved one, and money collected from that program will be used for more restoration projects.

Members hope to raise money to install recessed lighting within the church to illuminate the windows at night.

Our goal is to be able to apply for another grant in October, Sauer said. Well hear next spring and, if approved, will begin work next summer or fall.

In renovation phase 2, members plan to restore the podium, now covered with gray carpeting, to its original wood.

Workers also will strip the white paint from the double doors to reveal the natural wood.

The doors stand about 8 feet high and are fashioned in traditional Gothic style with metal ornamental trim.

I think its a fantastic project, said the Rev. James Watson, pastor of First Congregational.

Not only is it a unifying project, the energy it has generated has spilled off into other programs, so that the restoration is a metaphor for the actual restoration of the church community.

The 93-year-old First Congregational Church at Lincoln Avenue and East Eighth Street has just undergone a complete exterior restoration that cleaned and repaired its bricks and stained-glass windows. Phase 2 of the restoration could begin sometime next year. Reporter-Herald/Jenny Sparks

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