Wolfeboro church expansion and renovation on targetBY LARISSA MULKERN
Special to the Union Leader
January 29. 2014 4:14PM
WOLFEBORO — Cold winter weather and a few snowstorms have challenged construction crews working on the Wolfeboro First Congregational Church expansion on South Main Street, but officials say the project is on schedule.
This week, an eight-person framing crew is working to finish the roof and close up the building, according to project Superintendent Julianne Cardinal of North Branch Construction, the company chosen to renovate and expand the 102-year old church sanctuary.
“Winter has been hard on us due to the temperatures,” said Cardinal, adding that crews stay warm by dressing for the weather and inserting hot packs in their gloves and boots. On site, the heat is on in the basement and crews are welcome to warm up in the heated construction trailer.
“They have been troopers,” she said.
Once the framing is complete and the building covered, interior work such as plumbing and electrical will commence.
Over the Christmas holiday season, the crew, community and congregants shared a special moment when a Christmas tree was placed on the structure’s highest point, serving as a beacon.
“That was a special moment… it was a centerpiece for the town of Wolfeboro,” Cardinal said.
Senior Pastor The Rev. Gina Finocchiaro said the old tradition of placing a tree or a sprig at the highest point of new construction comes from Eastern Europe. When the tree went up before Christmas, she held a blessing ceremony where team members toasted the occasion with coffee.
Members and leadership at the Wolfeboro First Congregational Church have pondered a variety of renovation plans for the aging church over the years, and after considering a variety of options, chose a $3 million renovation that includes the demolition of about 3,800-square-feet of existing facilities above the lower level Fellowship Hall and kitchen.
The renovation will add more than 6,500-square-feet of new construction including a sanctuary and administrative offices.
Finocchiaro said once the building is closed in, the crews should be able to make up for time lost due to storm clean ups.
“Work has gone more slowly over the holidays. It’s been a harsher winter than we had hoped, but the crew really has been remarkable,” Finocchiaro said.
Earlier on during the project’s demolition, thieves stole old copper that had been pulled out of the building and a Bobcat construction vehicle was apparently hot-wired and driven onto a flatbed trailer one summer evening, during daylight. The theft case is still open.
Over the summer, the 340-member congregation worshipped at Anderson Hall at nearby Brewster Academy, and when school started, moved services to All Saints Episcopal Church in Wolfeboro.
The reverend said she is grateful for the support of the church and school community, but is looking forward to the completion of the new building, as are congregants.
“I’m starting to hear, ‘this has been great, but we’re ready for our own space,’” she said.