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A Letter from the Finance Committee: Repairs to North Balcony and Entry Gates

News--Gate Balcony Finance Committee

As you are likely aware, this July we had to close the north balcony and the historical entry gates to our church. This closing was necessary for the safety of our parishioners as well as visitors and tourists. The north balcony has had falling plaster as a result of water intrusion and our beautiful gates have experienced structural failure over the years, which has resulted in a safety hazard.

The vestry authorized the building committee to investigate and fix the problems of the gates and the balcony. To that end, we employed an engineer, Eddie Porcher, PE, with Stantec Engineering. Eddie was involved in the sanctuary’s restoration thirty years ago, as well as the restoration of the Parish House and Ministries Hall twenty years ago. He has a heart for St. Philip’s and is a superbly competent engineer. We have also retained Ryan Magee of Magee Ratcliff Construction. Ryan has done extensive restoration work around Charleston, both with NBM Construction and with his own firm.

We have proceeded meticulously, recognizing the historical significance of these projects coupled with the need for absolute safety for all.

After much study and analysis, we are ready to proceed with these two projects. We have applied for permits with the city and will be reviewing our plans with the BAR (Board of Architectural Review) at the same time.

Construction on both projects will last for several months. Fencing will be used to temporarily replace the north and south gates as they will be removed, sandblasted, restored, and repainted off-site. All fittings, foundations, and swing points will be replaced with superior materials now available. The frames around the gates will be repaired in place. The gates of the west cemetery will also require extensive work to make them secure for years to come.

The north balcony fix will require a bit of forensic work. Obviously, water infiltration is the cause of the plaster failure. We must locate the point of failure and correct it. The damage is occurring at the collection boxes located on the exterior of the north and south sanctuary walls—there are four on each wall. We will have to do some demolition on the plaster and proceed with water test protocol(s) to determine the problem and then the correction. This will be a slow but necessary process.

During this project, there will be scaffolding in the north balcony, but the design will allow for safe seating during services.

Thank you for your patience and understanding. St. Philip’s is dear to all of us, and it is important that we proceed with caution to protect God’s house to be enjoyed for generations to come.

Best,

Jim Stelling

St. Philip’s Finance Committee