Aspen Community Church faces major overhaul
July 21, 2012
ASPEN – The Aspen Community Church’s campaign to raise money for direly needed exterior and interior repairs stands at $1.35 million, or 27 percent of the overall $4.95 million goal, a church official said Friday.
But $1 million of that is a pledge from an individual family whose donation depends on others matching it. In other words, the 122-year-old church has got to get more substantial donations, and in relatively short order, given that various areas of the historic facility are cracking, crumbling and sinking.
“The Community Church is always there for the community, but we also depend on the community for support,” said the Rev. Jane Keener-Quiat. “We want to do a lot, and I think that this little congregation really makes a difference in the world.”
The church’s official membership includes between 50 and 75 families. Sunday services draw anywhere from 15 to 50 people, some of them visitors and second-home owners, she said.
The numbers don’t tell the whole story. The church building, at the corner of East Bleeker and North Aspen streets, fills many important community needs, according to Keener-Quiat and capital campaign director Elizabeth Means.
The landmark structure, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, provides rehearsal and concert space to the Aspen Music Festival and School. It is used for yoga and meditation classes, weddings and memorials, lectures and organ recitals, 12-step recovery programs, children’s music lessons and support for the homeless shelter.
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Pattillo Associates Engineers of Glenwood Springs says the necessary work includes major roof-framing repairs, balcony support augmentation, sanctuary-floor-beam strengthening and improvement of lower floor load capacities.
The project also would encompass exterior masonry tuck-point repairs, interior wall and lighting upgrades, improved electrical, heating and plumbing systems to bring the facility in line with city codes, stained-glass window restoration, a handicap-accessible restroom and fire protection and safety systems.
One only needs to take a quick tour outside and inside the building to witness much of the damage, caused in large part by the faulty roof. Time is chipping away at mortar holding together the sandstone rocks out of which the church was built. Cracks abound in the stained-glass window frames. Inside, the balcony is sagging and can only support a small number of people. More cracks and patch jobs line the interior walls.
The facility’s acoustics are still top-notch, perhaps the best in the Roaring Fork Valley, Means said. Despite all of the building’s issues, it still has its historic look and atmosphere, with long wooden pews and a classic organ and pipe system.
Glance up at the ceiling, though, and one can see the tie rods that were erected in late November and December of 2010. The church was closed for six weeks back then because the roof needed emergency stabilization at a cost of more $50,000.
“When this gets renovated, we can’t just do it any old way, because of the city’s rules for historic preservation,” Means said. “We’ve got to do it in the original manner in which it was constructed in 1890, and that’s an added cost.”
Though the church is officially aligned with the Progressive United Methodists denomination, it’s welcoming and open to all, Keener-Quiat said. The church also is active in missionary work: In 2008, two members traveled to Kenya to help rebuild a school and improve its facilities. Later, the church sent thousands of donated books. In 2010, Keener-Quiat and her husband traveled there with a group of valley residents and did more work to improve water and sanitary facilities.
Means said the church is looking for community partners, whether public or private entities, to assist with the cost of repairs and renovations. In return, leases arrangements could be made to the partnering organizations.
Contributions to assist the project can be mailed to Aspen Community Church, 200 E. Bleeker St., Aspen, CO 81611. For more information, call Means or Keener-Quiat at 970-925-1571.