Belfast Unitarian Universalist Church

Belfast, Maine

The Unitarian Universalist Church in Belfast purchased a formerly Methodist Church in the late 1980s.  The original brick church dates to the 1860s, but in the 1930s the congregation undertook major alterations that gutted the historic second floor Sanctuary and related it to the first floor. At the onset of the project we recommended a structural engineer whom prepared a conditions study and schematic plans to reconstruct the floor.

B+W was engaged to work with the congregation to conduct a Master Plan and Feasibility Study to program the growing needs of the church.  We explored various options from building anew in the suburbs, to major renovations/additions and identified levels of construction cost for a $500k, $750k and a $1 million project. Ultimately, the congregation decided to reconstruct the original floor to restore the second floor Sanctuary to its original form. Fortunately, the 1930 renovations encapsulated the tin ceiling and the specialized painting in an attic above their dropped ceiling.

The project created this “new” second floor, allowing the first floor to revert to offices, classrooms for the religious education program, multipurpose rooms, and a nursery for outside rental.

Work included an all-new mechanical system and lighting, new elevator, all new chancel area with full accessibility.

B+W participated in the preparation of fund-raising tools for a capital campaign, full design and construction documents, and on-call construction administration.

Challenges included code compliance which, naturally had evolved since the 1860s construction.  We were able to retain the original grand entrance stair, add a new rear fire stair, and rate between the first and second floors to allow full flexibility of current and future use for the first floor programs.

Construction 2017.  Cost approximately 1.0 million with volunteer labor.

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