Trinity Church in danger of collapse


Trinity Community Lutheran Church, a fixture of Point Roberts since 1913, is in danger of collapsing and requires $200,000 in repairs, according to Andy Marr who is heading the fundraising drive.

“We’re in pretty desperate straits,” Marr said in an interview with the All Point Bulletin on July 28. The sanctuary has been condemned and no one is allowed to enter it following examination by a building engineer and a contractor.

Last winter, Louise Cassidy noticed that the west wall of the sanctuary was bowing outwards and asked Tom Sheridan of Sheridan Construction to assess the condition of the building. Subsequently, the church’s insurance company, Brotherhood Mutual, hired John MacLeod, PE, to inspect the building.

MacLeod reported that “the lateral movement of the side walls resulted from an outward thrust imposed on the walls due to the gravity loading of the roof above. This is an original construction issue.” At the time, the wall was bulging about six inches from vertical plane; it has since grown further.

The report noted that two tension wires had been installed in the 1990s to shore up the walls and had “resolved the issue to some extent.”

Further complicating the issue, Mac-
Leod found that uneven settling had resulted in the southwest corner of the floor being four-and-a-half inches lower than the opposite corner.

As well, he found that the wooden piers supporting the floor were not mechanically attached either to the floor joists or the concrete footings below. Many of the piers appeared to be off-center of the footings. In the event of an earthquake, there would be nothing to prevent the building from sliding off the concrete footings and most likely collapsing.

To rectify the situation, Marr said the church needed $100,000 to immediately shore up the western wall. This would be accomplished by installing steel plates on opposite sides of the building and connecting them by seven steel cables.

The work would proceed in two phases, said Marr. Following the initial work to save the building, the next phase would involve constructing a real foundation and new entry for the building.

Each phase would require $100,000, or $200,000 in total. Work on the first phase has already begun.

In a letter detailing construction costs, Tom Sheridan wrote, “After thinking about all the different ways to approach this, David Bradley and I think this is the best way to proceed ... as it gets the church fully functional to full capacity and, with  maintenance, ensures the church’s use for the next 100 years and beyond. This will protect the church from any further settling, spreading of walls and roof and seismic events. Basically, this saves the church structure.”

The church has already begun its fundraising campaign and is seeking the community’s help to save the historic building.  To date, it has raised $21,000 but it obviously needs much more and soon.

Marr says while the church has a GoFundMe link on its web page, it would prefer checks and can accept U.S. and Canadian currency. Donors will receive either a U.S. or Canadian tax receipt.

Donations can also be made at the Umpqua Bank branch in Point Roberts. Checks can be mailed to Trinity Community Lutheran Church, PO Box 437, Point Roberts, WA 98281.

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