Trinity Repair and Restoration Projects

In the summer of 2018, it had been 18 years since major restoration work was done to the church facilities. Storms had compromised the integrity of the sanctuary roof, leaving many areas in need of repair from water damage.

Plan Formulated

A prioritized list of needed repairs was created with the estimated costs.  This list would be posted on the sanctuary door.  The most critical project was to make the sanctuary roof It was decided to take an additional offering to raise funds to finance projects.  A fundraising goal was set at $45,000 to replace the roof and a “Thermometer” was made to display our progress toward reaching our goal.  

               Our fund-raising thermometer.

Bell Tower

The damage to the bell tower was so evident that the city of Fernandina Beach wrote the church a letter concerning the condition of the bell tower. Not only was it an eyesore but they were concerned that the condition might be dangerous. An anonymous couple of the congregation gave enough money to the repair and repaint the bell tower. The work was completed in a week.  The work was accomplished with a little money left over, which became the seed money for the building fund.

The bell tower was in need of attention

City Responds

In May, Trinity UMC was proclaimed the “Beacon of Hope” by the City of Fernandina Beach for the work completed on the bell tower. Trinity was awarded a “History Happens Here” plaque in recognition of the restoration of the bell tower.  This recognition was a great encouragement to the congregation.  

The people who attended that award ceremony.

The City of Fernandina Beach provided a plaque which was mounted next to the sanctuary door.

Reflective Paint

July 2019 - Pastor Felix began to use a projector during the worship service and he needed a better surface onto which to project the images. Two members of the congregation purchased projection screen paint and painted the alcove behind the pulpit.

 Pulpit alcove gets painted with reflective paint.

Anonymous Donor

December 2019 - The first Christmas open house was held and donations for repair projects were given by the visitors. A large anonymous donation was given by a member of the community. This was added to the amount already in the property fund so we were halfway to our goal for the repair of the roof.

A surprise donation put us closer to our goal.

Floors Refinished

Jan 2021 - Members of the congregation volunteered to remove the very ragged, taped old red carpet located down the aisle and in the front and the back of the sanctuary. They planned to refinish the 3 respective areas.
- Another member family added money to the building fund so that plush carpet could be purchased for the altar area. When the old carpet was removed from the floor in the front and the back of the church, it was discovered that under the carpet was unfinished original heart of pine flooring which had never been sanded, stained or or sealed. It was a sight to behold. The members spent 5 days sanding, staining and then sealing those three sections.
- One of the heater/air conditioner units broke and had to be replaced. The interior of the sanctuary continued to deteriorate because of the leaking roof.
- A family donated enough additional funds to begin the roof repair process.

The center aisle still had some finish on it, but the floor behind and in front of the pews had been under carpet since they were installed and therefore were completely untouched, unfinished and raw wood.  

New Roof/Pot Belly Stove restoration

February 2021 - A roofing company was hired and the roof was completely restored.

The pot belly stove, which originally heated the sanctuary, was found under the stairwell in the parsonage. It was in pieces and was covered in rust. The stove was made in 1901 by the Hanks Stove Company located in Rome, Georgia. Two members of the congregation restored the potbelly stove

Even though the monetary goal for the roof had been raised, members continued to donate to the property fund to insure that other improvements on the buildings could continue.

The roof being replaced

Before and after pictures of the potbelly stove.

Added storage in parlor hallway

March 2021 - Recognizing a severe lack of storage, members installed cabinets in the parlor hallway.

The active church membership had grown to 38 members.

First two cabinets being polyurethaned.
 Cabinets installed on both sides of hallway.

New carpet installed 

April 2021 - Ten members of the congregation met, and it was decided that royal blue carpet would be purchased for the narthex, the parlor and the altar areas. Blue carpet was chosen because of the dominate color in all the beautiful stained glass windows. A young member family donated funds so the carpet could be installed.

The altar area with the new blue carpet

The parlor with the new blue carpet and tablecloths. 

Window trim was  caulked and painted.

April 8th, 2021 - The exterior white trim around the stained glass windows was caulked and painted.

The white trim around the stained glass windows was scraped, caulked and repainted.

Gutters installed

May 4th, 2021 - Gutters were installed to minimize the amount of rain getting to the stained glass windows, window and door sills.

Installation of the rain gutters

Irrigation system and door sills repaired 

July 2021 - In order to install any landscaping improvements around the church, the old, non-working sprinkler system had to be completely restored to proper working order. Members of the congregation replaced broken pipes, solenoids, and sprinkler heads so that the system could again function correctly.

The door sills to the main entrance, the parlor and the sanctuary back door were showing significant water damage. A member repaired the sills so that water damage could be eliminated and minimized in the future.

There was a broken pipe under the sidewalk in front of the steps to the main sanctuary doors.

The thresholds have been replaced.  The installation of a metal threshold at the main entrance allowed to the doors to be secured, which had been a problem in the past few years.

Chancel Chairs get reupholstered

August 2021 - A generous friend of Trinity sold rum cakes to raise money to have the pulpit chairs reupholstered to match the new carpeting. Three appliqué symbols of the Trinity were purchased and a member sewed them on the material before the chairs were reupholstered.

Chancel chairs reupholstered with Trinity Symbols. 

New landscaping

September 2021 - Another donation from a church family made it possible to move ahead with the landscaping project. The landscape architect, Trey Dennard, gave a generous donation/discount in honor of his late mother, Peggy Dennard.
- Not only was landscaping installed along 8th and Ash Streets, but Pastor Felix oversaw the installation of landscaping lighting.
- Pastor Felix had been in discussion with the insurance company that had paid the original claim following the hurricanes. Because of the small award, Pastor Felix negotiated the reopening of the insurance claim.

Fresh landscaping and landscape lightening.

Reopened the insurance claim

October 2021 - The insurance company re-evaluated the claim and awarded Trinity $75,000 so the roof could be repaired. Since we had already raised funds and repaired the roof, the insurance money could go towards the repair of the water damage to the interior. A contractor was hired to discover where the damage in the sanctuary was located. The contractor discovered that the window caulking around both the Star of David window and the Floral window was missing which was allowing water to leak in and destroy the plaster on the surrounding walls. Water damage was evident on the ceiling of the balcony on both sides. The decorative korbels along the upper walls suffered major damage to the extent they would need to be completely replaced.

Scaffolding was extensively used to replace damaged ceiling and the corbels.  The scaffolding and the dust generated in the restoration process combined to damage the floor to the point of needing to be refinished again. 

Floor professionally sanded and refinished

November 2021 The restoration process of the interior (plastering, wood replacement, painting and caulking) was accomplished. Because this work needed the use of scaffolding and ladders, parts of the floor was were severely scratched. We determined the entire heart of pine flooring in both the balcony and the main floor needed to be professionally refinished.

Replacing the pews after the floor was completed was a geometric puzzle.

Industrial belt sanders were used to even out the surface of the floor.

The pews needed to be shifted back and forth as different areas of the floor were worked on.

Storage shed and balcony chairs

December 2021 - In an effort to make better use of the balcony, it was decided to install a storage shed in the back corner of the parking lot and move all the surplus A/V and lighting equipment and other clutter from the balcony to the shed. Thirty blue chairs and a sofa were installed in the balcony.

The storage shed was installed in the corner of the parking lot.

30 chairs were installed in the balcony.

Another HVAC Unit

December 2021 - The older heating system failed so that zone’s A/C system had to be completely replaced with one that could heat as well as cool.  This new HVAC unit is all electric which allowed us to remove the propane tank from the back corner of the parlor.

The replacement electric only HVAC unit during the installation process.  

Flooring Finished

February 2022 - A professional flooring company, Just Floored, restored the original heart of pine flooring to their original beauty. During the process, the floors were sanded 3 times and finished with three coats of polyurethane. There were then approximately 40 active members attending church every Sunday. The flooring company also moved pews from the balcony to make a conversation area/children’s church area at the back of the sanctuary.

The finished floor is now all uniform in color and texture.

A conversation/meeting/children’s area was created near the back of the sanctuary with pews from the balcony.

Pew repairs

March 2022 - The original pews are in need of repair. About one fourth of the pews needed some kind of attention with damaged end pieces, split benches and insufficient bottom supports. Members began working on the pews, repairing split seats, mending end supports and reworking or installing needed under-pew supports.  The work is on-going.

 - The picture shows the custom clamp designed be used in gluing the pew seats back together.

A custom clamp was created to glue the pew seats which had split over the years.

Glue, strap clamps and special screws were used to secure the end pieces to the pews.

New Fence

April 2022 - Pastor Felix entered into an agreement with the beauty parlor next door on 8th Street to replace the worn wooden fence that separated our properties with a more open and more decorative metal fence. Our neighbors offered the use of their courtyard for special events.

Modern metal gated fence in back of the sanctuary.

Protection bollards

June 2022 - To protect the A/C units and the new storage shed, bollards were installed to keep cars from backing into things they shouldn't.

Bollards to protect the new HVAC units.

Bollards to protect the new shed.

Flower Bed Borders

July 2022 - In preparation for the parking lot upgrade, members used brick colored landscaping blocks to define flower beds around the North and West sides of church where there was none before. A team of six members (Charley Preus, Dave Schulte, Dave Anstine, Dick Burnett, Norman Hill and Lee Scofield) worked with Liberty Landscaping delivery driver and Cole McAfee (The Tractor Guy) to level and spread the limestone gravel over the 4,000 sq ft parking lot.

The flower beds were defined by landscaping bricks.

The dirt lot was covered with white limestone gravel.

Historic Marker

July 2022 - The very long and involved process of getting an historic marker for the Trinity church finally came to fruition when the marker and post were delivered. A member installed the marker in the designated location. The front side of the marker reads, “In 1891, the Rev. J.F. Eliot was assigned to Fernandina. He and the other congregation members began construction on the present church that same year. The brick building was constructed in the masonry vernacular style, and included pilasters, gothic arches, and a bell tower, floral themes are repeated throughout the sanctuary from the lancet stained glass windows to the pew entrances and ceiling brackets. Local historians say Trinity is “Florida’s oldest brick church built for African Americans”. Notable former church members include Nassau County educators, Dr. William H. Peck, and the Rev. Dr. William E. Pollen, Florida Rep Riley E. Robinson, Chief of Police, Robert “Friday” Smith and Judge John H. Stays. Church members Margurite Sheppard, Florence Holzendorf, and Selestine Shine remembered the days when there were three services each Sunday with the congregation filling the sanctuary and the balcony. An orchestra, featuring a violin, played for the worship services. In 1973, Trinity United Methodist Church was listed on the National Register of Historic Places as a contributing resource in the Fernandina Beach Historic District. As gateway to the district, it remains an integral part of Fernandina’s history.”

A two sided historic marker was installed on the Ash Street side of the church.  We had to be patient because only one historic marker is created for each state per month.  

Library Expansion

Sept 2022 - Due to the generous donation of biblical research books, commentaries, bible dictionaries, and books of prayers, by retiring Rev Conrad Sharp, we had more resources than we had space to display them. A member built a new book case for the parlor and another member helped install it, which increased the size of our reference library by about 50%.

Measurements before adding bookcase

After increasing library space by 50%

Parlor window replacement

Oct 25, 2022 - We had the pre-1950 windows replaced in the parlor addition to the historic sanctuary.

Pre-1950 windows were replaced

Termite extermination

Oct 26, 2022 - We had Southern Fumigation and Pest Control treat the bell tower for dry wood termites. Every opening in the church was sealed to contain the poison inside the church for two days before it was cleared and tested to ensure that all spaces were again safe for normal use. The process was in compliance with and inspected by a representative from the Florida Department of Agriculture.

The church was sealed up tight for three days to exterminate the dry wood termites that had infested the bell tower.

The Shed gets a shelving system

Dec 8th, 2023 - A couple of members installed a 2 foot wide shelf along the back wall of the storage shed in the parking lot so that the floor could be cleared and to make the space more usable.

New shelves in the shed.

The parsonage gets an upgrade

April, 2024 - The parsonage master bathroom got a makeover with a new vanity, fixtures, paint and shower enclosure.

Future Projects

Even though we have completed an impressive list of projects since 2019, we have various outstanding projects remaining in the pipeline that need funding:
- Update our bathrooms in the 1940’s parlor addition.
- There is an on-going effort to install under-pew supports throughout the sanctuary.

- Plans are in the works to replace the wooden fence next to the parking lot.

- Options are being explored to make our facility more ADA compliant.  

During this time, the listed restoration projects have been completed under the direction of Pastor Felix. The Holy Spirit has blessed this church with strong, loving and generous members and a very supportive community. Our work continues as members reach out to the community through meal preparation and distribution at the Internet Faith Dinner Network at the Salvation Army Hope House, the Community Food Bank, Habitat for Humanity, America’s Youth, Farm Share food distribution events, Sober Living and other organizations.

Our historic sanctuary was built in 1891 and requires a lot of maintenance.  The parlor was added in the 1940’s.