3/19/2013 by Emil Jensen
The Tower Campaign Committee has begun working on the committment drive which will culminate on Mother’s Day, May 12. There are several upcoming opportunities to learn more about the new design. Join us to learn more about how the architects at Progressive AE envision how the new tower will look. The modified tower design, which received an overwhelming majority vote at the December 2012 All Church Conference, strikes the right note in affirming our commitment to ministries while being good stewards of church funds. The church must be functional, safe, welcoming, and attractive to help us meet the needs of future generations.
The church was originally built in 1915. The tower consists of masonry construction, a multi-layer wall of brick covered by a façade of limestone. The original construction was completed in a remarkably short 18-month period.
Over the years, the tower has experienced wind damage and water infiltration. The original leaded glass diamond pattern windows have significant damage and have undergone repairs and replacement over time. The original structural brickwork has suffered water damage causing structural failure at certain points.
The tower has deteriorated as a structure. Wind and water have caused damage to the building as well as interior walls. Damage to the major mullions of the windows is a structural concern as well as a hazard to members of the congregation and the public, in particular at the south elevation of the church. Structural studies in 2008 and 2011 both indicated that the inner structure is failing and will not survive many more freeze cycles.
As discussed at the church conference meeting last December, the tower must be replaced. As stewards, we need to provide a church that is functional, safe, welcoming, and attractive. The decision to build the tower with a new design is a statement of focusing our time and resources on ministry.
So very sorry to hear of the demise of the wonderfilled and beautiful tower at Grand Rapids First UMC. I too was taken to the top by Custodian Roger Farmer during my years of internship with Richard DeVinney. What a clever and effective design for cooling the congregation in the days before air conditioning. Unfortuneately the walls and fans did not survive the tests of time. Best wishes for a sucessful, effective, and attractive design. I am so glad that we were able to fully restore our 1872 steeple and 1873 bell at the United Methodist Church of Lake Orion, Michigan, to their original appearance and sound. I hope you will be able to continue First Church's beautiful witness to theDowntown Grand Rapids skyline. May God continue to bless your ministry.