Last November, the congregation of the First Presbyterian Church had to vacate the historic building on Warren Street because the beams and trusses that support the weight of the roof were discovered to be compromised and creating a potentially unsafe situation. Today, it was announced that structural repairs to the underlying roof structure had begun this week. John Grover, who is coordinating the project, explained, "Our first priority is to stabilize the existing roof trusses and associated wood framing. Once that is completed, the doors can reopen."
The initial phase includes installing a temporary floor, so workers can function safely during the duration of the roof repair. Key to that floor are brackets custom made by metal workers at Silvernail Welding in Stottville. "We've been really fortunate to have such experts living nearby," said Grover. "It's made the job of the structural engineers immensely easier." Once the temporary floor is in place, through bolts, steel plates, and steel cables will be connected to the most seriously compromised trusses to restore structural integrity.
The stabilization is expected to take six to eight weeks and is being undertaken by Erich Kress, a woodworker and expert in the repair of old buildings. "He was instrumental in the work done on our rose window," Grover said. "His handling of woodwork and joining was exemplary. He really knows how craftsmen . . . built structures like this one."
The principal source of funding for the stabilization is a $50,000 long-term loan from the Presbytery of Albany. That, together with individual contributions, has put the church within reach of what is needed for the emergency repairs. The Friends of the First Presbyterian Church has applied a local foundation for a grant to cover the shortfall.
The problems with the beams and trusses were discovered when an engineering firm was hired to study the underlying structure in preparation for replacing the roof. After the stabilization is complete, the larger project--replacing the entire roof--remains to be done.
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