Losing Cherished Spaces

Demolition at Trinity Church, Newark, Ohio

Cynthia Johnson of Trinity Church in Newark, Ohio, writes about a painful chapter in the parish’s life as it demolishes a sanctuary, auditorium, and chapel because of structural damage:

My family has five consecutive generations, baptized and confirmed, “cradle-to-grave” members at Trinity, beginning with my grandfather at age ten in 1906. On many of the calls I was able to state my name, but as I began to state my purpose for the call my voice would quiver and crack, and at times I could not hold back the tears with total strangers on the other end. All were patient, many offered compassion and sympathy, and some, after a period of silence said, “we know about your church.”

We met with a company from Pennsylvania at the end of September and they offered us a proposal whereby they purchased our Tiffany “Ascending Christ” window for a price that equaled the cost of the demolition. The company would salvage and sell the remaining contents and windows with a percentage of the sales coming back to Trinity. After eight revisions, we signed the proposal in early December; and so began a new season.

The crew flawlessly removed the Tiffany window and, once repaired, it will be on display in a museum in Evanston, Illinois. Members of the congregation were given the opportunity to purchase items, and we did. One parishioner purchased some of the wormy chestnut paneling from the chapel and is now making beautiful crosses out of it, donating the money back to the church for a mission yet to be determined. The slate from the roof went to the state of Delaware. The seasoned wooden beams, paneling, flooring and lathe were carefully disassembled and the nails painstakingly removed before it was loaded onto trucks to be re-purposed in construction elsewhere. Some of the stone was purchased locally for use in yards and gardens.

As the work was being done, we endured the indignant wrath of some passersby who asked, “How dare you tear down this historical landmark?” While their words deepened the dagger, we gracefully thanked them for their interest and asked for their prayers. Others stopped to share memories of Trinity’s presence in downtown Newark, marveled at “the courage it must have taken for you to make this decision,” and offered their prayers.  The work crew handled our possessions with dignity and respect, and we embraced them. Most of us, at one time or another during this “season” stood in our former sanctuary amidst the dust and demolition, in tears, recalling our precious memories and occasions spent here. The workers always stopped, listened patiently and offered support. They helped us load our purchases and even delivered them for some. They left for a week at Easter, returning to complete the demo in mid-April. They had become like family and we will never forget their kindness.

Read the rest.

Cathy Bagot wrote a prologue to this account on May 7.


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