Revival of the Presbyterian Church


Renovations after fire at Garberville's Presbyterian Church

Heavy equipment works on the Presbyterian Church in Garberville this week after a fire in June destroyed parts of the building.[Photo by Kelley Lincoln]

Nearly seven months after the fire that nearly burned Garberville’s Community Presbyterian Church to the ground, work has finally begun to rebuild and repair the community’s landmark church.

In the wee hours of Friday, June 16, a fire in an RV parked on the street destroyed the church’s fellowship hall and badly damaged the sanctuary.

Speaking with Deacon Clif Anderson this past Thursday the 11th, Anderson says clean-up and rebuilding have been delayed by insurance and permitting issues. But now, renovation is on its way. On Thursday, an excavator and a backhoe were hard at work removing the ruins of the Fellowship Hall that have sat as an ugly reminder of the summer’s devastation.

The Church has entered a contract with renovation contractors New Life Services who specialize in post-fire rehabilitation. New Life Services will serve as the project manager subcontracting most of the actual tasks, according to Anderson.

Anderson expects the demolition and clean up to be complete by the end of next week. Meanwhile, their rebuilding permits are still in process. But he predicts the rebuilding to begin in the spring and hopes the congregation can reoccupy the sanctuary by autumn.

One bureaucratic hiccup slowing the process is the fact that the parcel the church occupies is zoned for General Commercial.  Which means that even though the church long predates zoning ordinances, it must go through the Conditional Use Permit process. Anderson said at this point he expects all will be approved, the process simply requires time and attention.

While expressing the caveat that the permits aren’t fully approved yet, Anderson said the design plans use the same footprint, but propose to lower the floor providing increased access for elderly and disabled participants. He explained the Fellowship Hall will be somewhat smaller to accommodate a larger kitchen for the church as well expanded refrigeration and dry storage for the food bank, a keystone program of the Garberville Presbyterian Church.

Anderson expressed gratitude for the local firefighters who saved the sanctuary, “I can’t overstate how amazing they were.” After the restoration is complete, the sanctuary should look and feel as it did before the fire. Firefighters saved the pews, the organ and the paneling.

While no one needed the fire, Anderson says it will be nice to have the entire building on one floor with updated wiring and plumbing and better designed for the current needs of the people in the church.

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