St. Mark's United Methodist Church
Thursday, December 12, 2013
Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors
CHURCH EXPANSION AND
IMPROVEMENTS TO PROPERTY
The Norhill Church property was sold on August 20, 1941 to the Berean Baptist Church as evidenced by the deed filed in Volume 1220, page 434, of the deed records of Harris County. The sale price was $10.00 and other considerations; however a note for $7,200 was described in the deed and was payable at $75.00 per month. This was much less than originally anticipated and board minutes of April 30, 1941, stated that the church would have to pay a lien of about $3,000 to the Preacher’s Aid Society. So actually there was to be a net of about $4,000 to apply on the debt to the Rice Institute.
The Woodland parsonage on Byrne was sold and a parsonage with a garage apartment on Redan was purchased in November of 1946 while Dr. Chunn was pastor. It was later sold and the present parsonage at 702 Pecore was purchased.
At the time of purchase, it was thought that the church property on Pecore, which was almost an acre in size, was sufficient for the needs of the church. However, the building covered most of the land and very little space remained for off-street parking. It soon became evident that more land was needed adjacent to the church property but the first order of business was to pay the debt on the new building. After the dedication in February, 1946, the securing of more property began in earnest. In May of that year, lots across Redan were given to the church by a member and a deal was made with the owners of the lot and house behind the church whereby the church would move the house across Redan and make any necessary repairs as a result of the move. In 1948, the church purchased an adjoining vacant lot in back of the church at a cost of $2,650. In 1949, another adjacent lot was acquired. In 1954, the property at 524 Pecore was purchased and the house was moved to a vacant lot on Redan which the church owned. This property was later sold. In 1971, the house and lot on Pecore west of the church was purchased, the house was sold and moved away and the land was made into a playground for children.
With a regular attendance of more than 500 in the Sunday School, it was obvious from the beginning that additional classrooms were needed to house pupils. It was first necessary however, to pay the debt on the church before starting an expansion of facilities. Finally, in 1949, serious discussions began on this subject and another 10 years passed before plans and financial arrangements were complete. In the meantime, two morning church services and two sessions of the Sunday School were begun in the fall of 1951. This arrangement made use of the facilities twice. The children’s division attended the early worship service while the adults were in Sunday School; the groups were reversed for the second session.
To relieve the crowded condition, first thoughts were to utilize the third floor or attic of the educational building. Mr. Francis J. Niven was retained as consulting engineer and at the board meeting on February 14, 1950, a letter from him was read in which he expressed the opinion that the existing ceiling joists and steel beams would support light classrooms but not an assembly hall; however, it would be necessary to strengthen the joists and possibly the steel beams. The building committee reported they were convinced it would be unwise to finish the attic and Mr. Niven was asked to prepare plans for a new building. He stated that he thought it would cost about $7.00 per square foot to construct. The original building committee consisted of A.E. Gentry, W.J. Hubbell and Jim D. Mason.
The years passed amid planning, fundraising, remodeling the kitchen, air conditioning the church and repairing the steeple after it was struck by lightning in November, which splintered the heavy timbers bracing the interior and making other minor repairs.
A new building committee was appointed consisting of:
Frank Baker, chairman Lester Pickle
Charles Farber Dr. Frank Avery
D.B. Keller Mrs. Frank Avery
Jim D. Mason Miss Dorothy Shriner
A.E. Wagenhauser Robert Wright
Stacy Watson Mrs. E.N. Dube
Finally, on April 14, 1959, Mr. Baker presented to the board the artist’s drawing of the new educational building and the architect’s floor plan. Bids were received at the next board meeting and contracts were awarded as follows:
P.G. Bell Co., Inc. - general construction - $99,500
James Letsos Co. - air conditioning - $10,450
Fisk Electric Co. - electric work - no amount given
L.R. Hayes was the architect and Walter Timmermann was the engineer in charge.
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St. Mark’s Children’s Building
A groundbreaking ceremony was held on September 13, 1959 after the morning worship service with Rev. Walton Gardner, Pastor, and Rev. Coke Lambert, Associate Pastor and two representatives from the children’s division, Scott Williams and Shirley Hilsher, taking part.
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Groundbreaking for the Children’s Building, Rev. Coke Lambert, Rev. Wilson Gardner, Scott Williams, Shirley Hilsher.
Six months later, on March 13, 1960, a consecration service was held for the new children’s building and after the note was finally paid in full the building was dedicated on Sunday, February 3, 1970, which was the thirtieth anniversary of St. Mark’s.
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Congregation Assembly at the Groundbreaking for the Children’s Building
At the same time the children’s building was constructed an addition was made on the east end of the sanctuary for a choir rehearsal and robe room.
A gift of money from Mrs. Washam, aunt of St. Mark’s member, Mrs. Arlene Bouknight, was used to construct a Youth Center using two classrooms on either side of the stage in the Fellowship Hall and also the area back of the stage. This is known as the Washam Center.
At the board meeting on November 9, 1948, Frank Avery requested permission for the Crusaders’ class to construct a chapel out of their present classroom. The Crusaders’ class was composed of young men and women, either working or in college or both. It was organized during the war with Mrs. Frances Moers as teacher. By 1948, most of the young men had returned from their military service. The classroom was on the front of the second floor facing Pecore Avenue. The young men of the class would do most of the work and an experienced carpenter would do the finishing work.
An altar would be constructed and also a pulpit, lectern and communion rail. Lillie Gerloff, a member of the class, gave two large chairs in honor of her mother and father. She also gave the large bible, cross and drapes. This all made a worshipful atmosphere and the chapel could be used for small weddings, baptisms, etc. After permission was granted by the board it didn’t take long to complete the work because the first wedding was solemnized on February 23, 1949, when Betsy Christian and Gordon Ray Hinz were married.
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The Chapel - Built by the Crusaders’ Class
Several years later the chapel was occupied by the Voyagers class whose membership included some of the former Crusaders’. The pews and a spinet piano were added during this time.
Financial campaigns for the budget were held annually with many members taking part.
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Leaders of the 1955 campaign were Charles Farber, J.D. Hancock, Roy Fleming, Mrs. Fred Crawford and W.R. Shriner.
A large crack in the south wall and a smaller one in the north wall of the sanctuary needed attention. At a called meeting of the board on August 1, 1963, Mr. A.E. Gentry, chairman of the board of trustees, reported that Mr. T.J. Kennedy, an engineer with Tellepsen Construction Company had been called in to inspect the condition and that Mr. Kennedy had in turn called on Mr. Francis Niven, the engineer who was engaged in the building construction.
A letter from Mr. Kennedy was read -
Dear Mr. Gentry:
After visiting the St. Mark’s Methodist Church with you to inspect the truss wall conditions, I spoke to Mr. Francis Niven who did the structural design. Mr. Niven’s opinion, with which we concur, is that the failure is the result of soil upheaval on the grade beam or corner footing or possibly on both. This action apparently placed the bottom chord of the truss in compression, thereby bowing it and at the same time sheared the masonry wall. The upheaval has evidently been caused to great extent by the leaking downspout which is now near the failure.
It is suggested that the following corrective steps be taken-
1. Shore under the truss.
2. Remove tile and stone to determine the extent of damage.
3. Excavate and inspect grade beam footing and downspout.
4. If necessary, reinforce beam and footing and repair downspout.
5. Replace masonry.
Our estimate of the cost to perform the above corrective work is $2,500.00 to $3,000.00. We feel
the condition requires immediate attention.
Very Truly Yours,
Tellepsen Construction Company
By: T.J. Kennedy
After discussion the board voted to take the corrective measures as outlined and as a result worship services were held in the Fellowship Hall for a number of weeks.
These repairs slowed the movement of the walls and St. Mark’s member, Wilbur Evans, an engineer, has made readings on a plumb line during the years and in 1988 it was necessary to do more repair work.
The exterior of the church has been restored and the stones cleaned.
A sound system was installed in the sanctuary.
A standing seam copper roof was installed on the sanctuary and attached educational building in 1988 at a cost of $225,000, which was about twice the original cost of the entire structure when it was built 50 years before. It is hoped we are through with leaks for another half century.
In 1973-74 a memorial garden was designed and constructed at the parking lot entrance to the church. Shrubs were planted and a stone water fall built. There are benches where one can sit and meditate.
In 1942 Mr. and Mrs. Max Adolf gave the musical chimes to the church as a memorial to their son who lost his life in an act of kindness on June 21, 1941.
The history of St. Mark’s and its people has been assembled and preserved by the Heritage Committee, first chaired by Mrs. Frances Moers. Countless hours have been invested in this effort by the Committee, its chairman and others who have cooperated with them to assemble, record and preserve this information. One of the distinctive features of our church is the Heritage Room.
One of the first endeavors was to have the portraits of all pastors placed in the foyer of the church. They were dedicated as a memorial to A.A. Leifeste, who was pastor of Norhill Methodist Church at the time of unification. They were presented at a special service on Sunday, February 22, 1974, when Rev. William M. Harris, assistant pastor of St. Mark’s in 1949, preached the sermon and guest soloist was Mrs. William Bull, daughter of the late Dr. Marcus Chunn, a former pastor.
The dedication of the Heritage Room was at a special service on Sunday afternoon, June 1, 1975. Mr. O’Banion Williams gave an informative talk on the merger of Woodland and Norhill, the financial campaign and the building of St. Mark’s.
The Heritage Room was made possible by memorial funds and the construction was done by Lester Pickle and Carroll Reese. Rev. Leifeste died in November 1973 and Rev. Richardson, pastor, wrote the following tribute on page 150.
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THE PASTOR SPEAKS