Assessment and repairs needed for landmark Berthoud church
By Shelley Widhalm
Heidi Short of Berthoud wants to save a historic and iconic church in her hometown, and to do so she needs to start with an assessment.
Short aims to raise $10,000 toward the $30,000 estimated cost to assess damages and needed repairs to the Berthoud Spanish Foursquare Church, 500 Fourth St. at Mountain Avenue. She launched a GoFundMe campaign Jan. 14, First Phase Historic Church Repairs, and so far has raised $250.
“It’s the cornerstone of town,” said Short, former chairwoman of the Berthoud Historic Preservation Advisory Council and a member of the Erie Historic Preservation Advisory Board. “People who come to visit this town, that’s the one thing they always talk about is that church.”
The assessment is a Historic Structures Assessment, which, if approved, would be conducted with the help of a $20,000 grant and oversight from the Colorado State Historic Fund, operated by History Colorado. The other $10,000 would be a match to the grant.
“It’s our commitment to what the state would give us for doing the assessment,” Short said.
In addition to the GoFundMe campaign, which will continue until May or June, Short is engaged in other fundraising efforts to reach the needed amount. She plans to hold a couple of fundraising concerts at the church and is reaching out to community foundation groups for the additional support.
The assessment, consisting of a complete evaluation of the conditions of the church building, will be conducted by a team led by Natalie Feinberg Lopez, an architectural conservator and principal of Built Environment Evolution in Boulder. The assessment will document the repairs that are needed and provide recommendations on how best to complete the repairs, plus list additional grants from the State Historic Fund that could help cover the cost of the repair work.
“This church is pretty spectacular. It has had very little done to it to change it, so it’s almost exactly how you would have seen it when it was built in 1904,” Feinberg Lopez said. “It hasn’t had a lot of attention and maintenance over the years, so we know there is damage that needs to be repaired.”
The Berthoud Historical Society received a grant in the mid-2000s to conduct another assessment on the conditions of the church roof, but the actual work ended up being covered by the church since a grant could not be obtained. Short restarted the process of getting a new assessment grant last year with the help of Feinberg Lopez.
“There has been damage since the last historic assessment was done. There’s been plumbing leakage and a number of other things affecting the church,” Short said, adding that staff from the State Historic Fund visited the site. “When they came and saw the building, they understood that we need to do another assessment.”
The church, built in 1904 and spanning 5,870 square feet, is one of only two standing churches designed by Fort Collins architect Montezuma Fuller. Under the historic name of the First United Brethren Church, it was listed in the State Register of Historic Properties in 2001. It has several unique features, such as a square corner tower, lancet windows with tracery and both Romanesque and Gothic Revival design elements.
The church was originally a church of the United Brethren congregation until 1956, when it was acquired by the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel. Ten years later, it became home to the Hispanic Foursquare congregation.
Short tried to get the church listed on Colorado Preservation, Inc.’s Most Endangered Places list last year but was denied and will try again this year.
“The fact I applied for it shows we’re very serious about the problems with the church,” Short said.
The primary problems are with the foundation and the stain-glassed windows, she commented.
“We have a couple of areas where we noticed the foundation is in serious need of attention.”
A section of the roof is leaking into the wall, even though the roof was replaced in the last five years, Short said. The structural issues with the foundation is affecting the stain-glassed windows in a few areas, primarily the two large windows at the west and south sides of the building, she said.
“We can actually see the light of day at the top of the stain-glassed windows,” Short said, adding that a few of the smaller windows have cracks and holes in them.
The Rev. Steve Salazar, pastor of the church and a Mead resident, doesn’t want the church to lose the windows.
“It’s kind of like an eyesore if you’re driving by seeing those windows,” said Salazar, who is in charge of the funds, and with Short will oversee the assessment work. “Some of the windows are buckling up a little bit. The framework on some of the windows is already deteriorated. … We would hate to see those windows fall apart because they are separated from the frame.”
Short and Feinberg Lopez plan to submit the assessment grant application by the end of February. The assessment work would begin in May or June and could take until August. Once completed, Short will help the church apply for grants to help cover the costs of the repair work from the State Historical Fund and other institutions.
“We have to have the assessment in hand to see how much work has to be done and how much money has to be spent, then we can do a timeline,” Short said. “It’s really important we try to save the one focus in the community, one of the oldest buildings that identifies the community.”
Feinberg Lopez likes seeing a town embrace its architectural history and cultural heritage, she said. “Communities that invest in their historic structures get returns on both community pride as well as heritage tourism,” she said.
Follow the link for the GoFundMe Effort https://www.gofundme.com/f/first-phase-historic-church-repairs
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