I mentioned in a previous post that our fabric Christmas Bell has survived the fire. It was stored in a narrow cabinet space above the handicapped bathroom. This storage area was created specifically by Jim F to store the bell and keep it safe. Well little did Jim know just how well this protection would work.
When I got to the church on Friday I noticed that the crew was entrenched in removing the bathroom walls and that the storage area was no more. I asked Geoff of Belfor what was left of the bell figuring it would be little more than charred fabric and melted PVC. To my shock he told me that his workers moved it to the sanctuary. And sure enough, there it was. The cover looked a bit gray but after opening the edge I found the bell to be in perfect condition, albeit smokey.
Yesterday I was able to open it up completely, remove the PVC and bring the cover and fabric home for washing. The green fabric washed beautifully and only needs ironing (and I’m putting that off!), The cover though was very gray on the bottom and one laundering did not cut it. Soaked it the tub with Oxiclean for a while and rewashed it and now it is much better. I am going to give it to Belfor for “desmokeafying”.
As I was spreading the cover out for it to completely dry, I found 2 spots where it actually had burn marks. We need to look for little miracles, now more than ever with the fire and the larger issue of the virus, I will found this as one of the small ones.
Wow! What a week! In spite of the threat of Covid19, work at Calvary has been happening at a frantic pace. Here’s the latest news for the week of March 13 – 20. (Thank you to Peter S for organizing this information which has been a big help to me)
The week started out with Jim F working his magic as he managed to get Central Hudson to come and reconnect the electricity. Up until then we were working with temporary power provided by the work of American Eagle run off the temporary lighting set up outside the week before with the help of John and Jack C.
On Friday, March 13, Belfor Restoration was on site to install heavy duty extension cords and set up air filters, dehumidifiers and temporary lights inside so the space would be safer to begin the arduous task of the clean up.. That evening, the Fire Committee met at Union Presbyterian Church to catch up, consider options and make plans for moving ahead.
Saturday, in the midst of the debris of Fellowship hall Roy P, Carol L and Sue Y worked to salvage pieces of the stained glass window that was on the stage. There have been rumors about this window being a Tiffany but based on records and an inspection of the remnants of the glass and lead, it is more likely that this window was the creation of John LaForge or Donald McDonald. This window was originally installed in the Calvary Presbyterian Church located on Liberty Street. When First Presbyterian and Calvary joined congregations, the window was moved to what was its locaton in fellowship hall. This would have been in the mid 1900s. The window was most likely created in the late 1890s to the early 1900s. What remains of the window has been put in wooden trays for storage but is completely destroyed from the intense heat and cannot be restored.
Our Sunday Morning service on March 15th was attended by 4 people worshiping at Best Temple. Damian D worked with Pastor J to use Facebook to livestream the service so it could be viewed live by members and friends of Calvary . The service included a prelude of singing and piano by Pastor J . He then shared an inspirational message. Afterwards those present joined in prayer for our community and the world. The video has been added to our YouTube page. It is available there and on our website for folks to continue to worship along with it and continue to be an outreach to our faith community.
On Monday, an inventory firm was on site counting and logging all of the contents in the building lost as a result of the fire. Jim and Helen F assisted in this task to assure everything was being reported to the insurance company.
Tuesday, March 17, Befor Restoration under the direction of Geoff arrived, set up 2 large dumpsters and a truck and began removing the soggy debris from Fellowship Hall. This work continued through out the day on Wednesday when a larger crew from Belfor arrived. They began removing furniture for cleaning or disposal. Two and a half 30 yard dumpsters were filled and removed that day. Jim F reported that a neighborhood church was able to salvage much needed folding chairs and tables (covered for us under the insurance) before they were thrown into the dumpster. Jim states “They were very grateful – I guess blessings come in all sizes.”
Also on Wednesday, Luke P, John C and Sue Y met with Odell, the insurance company adjuster for the musical instruments. They looked at the 3 pianos first. The one in the basement suffered water damage, the one in fellowship hall, as you can see from the pictures, is toast (sorry had to say that) but the grand piano in the sanctuary is in good shape, just will need cleaning from smoke damage. The group then went to the organ loft to examine the Skinner Organ. Odell checked out the great, the swell and the console and the bellows in the tower and has determined the the entire organ will need to be completely cleaned, inside and out. The fire committee has already been working with Foley Baker, the company who has been working on the organ over the years and have gotten their estimate for the work. We are awaiting Odell’s final report which he will be submitting to the insurance company. The fire committee will be getting competitive bids for the required work based on this report from other qualified organ companies. It was a great discussion, with Luke P and expert on our Skinner and other instruments of similar design and John C with his analytical engineering mind, Odell knows we are aware of what we have and that we want to protect it.
On Thursday, three more dumpsters of smoked debris were removed as the interior walls of Fellowship Hall were dismantled. Peter S and I met with David of Lamb Stained Glass for them to provide a quote for cleaning of our stained glass windows and to determine a value of the window that was on the stage. We also checked the back side of the rose window (the Martha and Mary window) and found it to be in excellent shape. This is amazing because the “outside” of this window in boxed in on the 2nd floor of fellowship hall and could have easily been smoke or heat damaged from the fire. David commented that this is a beautiful window and probably was created in England.
Started on Thursday and continued on Friday was the erection of scaffolding in the sanctuary. This will allow workers access to the highest points of the building for cleaning and painting. The clearstory stained glass windows will be cleaned while this scaffolding is up.
By Friday afternoon, fellowship hall has been stripped to the cinderblock walls. Work will continue next week to gut the second floor, leaving only the restrooms untouched. The basement which has water damage is also slated for work on the wall between the kitchen and the large school room.
One of the most exciting moments for me (Sue Y) this week was discovering that the Christmas bell survived the fire. When I was getting ready to leave church this morning I happened to notice that the workers were opening up the area over our handicapped bathrooms. Realizing that the Christmas bell had been stored there I asked Geoff of Belfor what happened to the bell that had been stored there. I completely expected it to be a lump of melted PVC and fabric soot. You can imagine my shock when he told me that it was in the sanctuary on the pews. Sure enough there it was. The cover was a bit smudged but the bell was intact within. All it will take is laundering the fabric and some new PVC and it will be as good as new.
A lot has happened in the past week. If you have a chance feel free to stop by the church and see the work for yourself. For those who cannot make it I have included the pictures so you can more understand what is happening.
The fire committee has been busy since being appointed at a joint meeting of the Session and Trustees on Sunday, March 8. The committee met yesterday evening to coordinate efforts over the past week. Here is an update on what has been happening.
A temporary security system was donated and installed by Safe and Sound , New Windsor, NY to help secure the building until our usual security company, CDR Security can repair and update our existing security system. Once that is done, Safe and Sound is going to donate a security camera system. Thanks so much to Dan from Safe and Sound. We still have an armed guard protecting the church at night and bright lights have been added to illuminate the building (check it out, the church looks beautiful at night).
A list of other donations received to date has been added to the website and will be updated as monies, service and goods are received. Check it out here. Most importantly we are grateful to the Newburgh Fire Department and all of the firefighters from Castle Point, Cronomer Valley, West Point, Stewart Air National Guard and Beacon for responding so quickly, confining the fire to the fellowship hall and putting the fire out before more damage was done.
The cause of the fire is still not clear but the claims adjuster from Travelers Insurance has given approval to start work in the building. Belfor Property Restoration has been retained to work with the insurance company, doing the clean up of the church and fellowship hall. Even though the fire confined to the main room of fellowship hall, the entire structure suffered smoke damage from the highest peak of the ceiling in the sanctuary to the basement in fellowship hall – and there is water damage too. Electrical power has been returned to part of fellowship hall which will allow clean up to start. Temporary lighting has been installed.
Our phone system suffered damage and Peter S is meeting with Verizon today to try to get it back up and functioning. Upon completion of the repairs, the church phone number will forwarded to Helen “F who is continuing to work from home until temporary office space can be set up at 120 South Street.
This morning, Sue Y, Roy P and Carol L will be working to peel back the layers of the stained glass window on the stage. Next week members of the fire committee will meet with Lamb Stained Glass Studios to look at this damaged window and examine the rose window (the Mary and Martha window above the pulpit area) to see what damage may have been done to it. They will provide the necessary appraisals for the insurance company with a quote for cleaning of all of the stained glass windows in the sanctuary of smoke damage. We will also be provided an appraisal of all of the windows to document the value of them for future reference.
Also next week. the committee will be meeting with someone to help start the inventory of the lost and damaged contents and with Odell to access the damaged pianos, the organ and the handbells. We already have a proposal from Foley-Baker Organ Restoration for cleaning and repair of the organ and will be getting one from Schulmerich Handbells for our handbell cases.
We have a long road ahead but as you can see we are moving forward. As John C said at the joint meeting, “How do you eat and elephant? One bite at a time.” and we working bite by bite,
This page is to acknowledge donations of money and services received by Calvary in assistance for our fire damage. If I have missed anyone please accept my apologies and send me a note through the contact page of this website. These are listed in no special order. We are truly blessed by our community and send warmest thank yous to those listed below as well as the many others who are donating their time and talents.
First and most importantly thank you to the Newburgh Fire Department and all of the firefighters from Castle Point, Cronomer Valley, West Point, Stewart Air National Guard and Beacon for responding so quickly, confining the fire to the fellowship hall and putting the fire out before more damage was done.
Margaret K, Allison B, Susan S. Anne V, Emily B, Katrina Z, Ericka N, Peter & Eileen L, Friendship Baptist Church, Anonymous
Dan Mahoney and Safe and Sound
Donation of security system and installation for use as we rebuild
Alice B – Donation of replacement handbell notebooks
Steve & Debra O – Offer of baby grand piano
Union Presbyterian Church – usage of handbells and bell room allowing our bell choir to continue rehearsals and for usage of building for committee meetings.
Best Temple Church of God In Christ – hosting our Sunday morning services and Wednesday Bible study in their church
Iglesia Adventista del Séptimo Día, Hispana de Newburgh – for hosting our meetings
These videos and photos were provided by Dawn Roth and were taken while the fire department was fighting the fire. Warning these can be disturbing.
Nice work, Dawn, thank you for sharing these videos and photos.
Thanks to Jim F.. Kate, John, Carter and Jack C. Calvary is flooded in lights. It’s a beautiful thing. These lights will be on all night, every night until we get our alarm system back up and running. Thanks folks for a job well done. (and if you are concerned, this is covered under our insurance) Check out the pics (click thumbnail to see larger images).
We have received a donation of a baby grand piano for our fellowship hall. The donor will store it until we are ready to receive it. Roy P. has volunteered Norman Brothers Moving to move it in for us when that time comes.
Break-in Thwarted! Last night, some men broke into the fellowship hall building, They removed some items from the upstairs and broke the lock on the office door (the new one that was just installed by Jim F.!) They had taken a few items outside when they were discovered by Damion D. who managed to chase them off and call the police. We have hired an armed security guard who will be present from now on every night. Lighting is being installed to illuminate the building at night also.
Our community connections continue to help us out. The security guard lives in a house complete by Habitat for Humanity at which Jim F. was involved in. This gentleman would have been in fellowship hall on many occasions including coffee breaks while working on the hours, presenting projects and for graduation in the program.