Home 9 News 9 A labor of love: Renovation, preservation project underway at Christ Episcopal Church

A labor of love: Renovation, preservation project underway at Christ Episcopal Church

Feb 20, 2024 | News

CLEVELAND — When you think of beautiful and special places in our region that everyone should see, and which you hope will be here for centuries to come, Christ Episcopal Church in Cleveland makes the list.

The church campus will now be assured of being there for many generations to come as a labor of love is underway.

In recent years, the Nancy Brandon Thompson Memorial Parish Building/Hall experienced structural and foundational deficiencies. Two side walls had gaping holes in the corner of the historic building and there was an eight-inch sag in the ridge of the roof that was causing the brick walls to bulge outward in the middle. Without repairs, the parish building/hall would have eventually collapsed.

“The Parish Building/Hall existing roof appears to be sagging while the outer bearing walls are rotating outward and buckling under the pressure from the roof moment,” noted David Morton of Morton Engineering.

This landmark preservation project is led by the great-grandson of the original land donor. The William Preston Barber family donated 10.09 acres in 1826 for the church to be built, and now in 2024, Charles Preston Barber is the historic builder responsible for bringing the parish hall back to its original form.

“This is a labor of love for me to bring this building back to its original form. I want generations to come to enjoy the beauty and peace of this rare gem in our town of Cleveland community,” Barber said.

The Nationally Registered Historic Landmark has been part of the town of Cleveland community for about 200 years. 

“Members of Christ Episcopal Church understand that the church is an important part of Rowan County’s past, as well as a promising part of its future,” said Mike Smith, senior warden of the church. “The preservation and restoration project provides an opportunity for the church to welcome members of the community and visitors to connect with the beauty of the historic landmark church, its grounds, whether by walking or soon by virtual tour, and the special people in the community.” Aspects of the project that are currently underway include the roof lift work to ensure the structural integrity, major reinforcement and foundational work to bring the roofline up, replacement of compromised ductwork for the heating system and replacement and upgrades to inadequate, compromised and dangerous electrical wiring.

The next steps for the restoration project include finishing the basement mechanical room, repairing leaking walls and all brick work, installing a new sure wall, a sump pump for any remaining water, new rafters in the roof line, a new roof, lightning rods, refurbish foundation vents, strip, re-stain and refurbish door and screen to the building, HVAC, complete all painting, a new stove for the kitchen, construction of six support beams that match the historical relevance of the Historic Parish to support structure ongoing, and carpet removal with the group working with the historic builder to determine if floors can be restored throughout the building.

Upon completion of the project, the building offers a community resource to host 60-100 people for preservation and genealogy workshops, family reunions, leadership and workforce training, wellness training/coaching, adult/children’s educational retreats, as well as any other group activities that can serve the community’s needs.

The project is funded by members of Christ Episcopal Church, and matching funds were provided by The Richard Wainwright Barber Farm Preservation Trust made possible by former church members, Charles and Rebecca Barber Floyd. The Charles A. Cannon Charitable Trust No. One is also a major contributor to this important community project.

For those wishing to be a part of this special project, there are a number of ways to engage which include visiting their Sunday worship services at 10:30 a.m. or taking a tour of the project on the fourth Sunday of each month. Contact Mike Smith at 704-640-8193 to join for a tour.

In addition, those wishing to make a financial contribution toward the project or other church activities, may send donations to Christ Episcopal Church, P.O. Box 37, Cleveland, NC 27013, Attention General Fund.

After your visit or tour of Christ Episcopal Church, explore the town of Cleveland Walking Trail, themed “Always Original Barn Quilt Cubes.” This walking tour has been designed to “connect community through art, nature, music, farming, faith, fellowship, love and acceptance.”

The quilt trail has received national recognition. It is the only logoed municipality Barn Quilt trail in the region, and the Barn Quilt Mural, was painted and designed by members of the West Rowan community.

Town commissioners created both a 1.5- and 2.6-mile walking trail, which is artistically wrapped with 11, one of a kind, “Always Original Barn Quilt” art installations.

In 2024, Christ Episcopal Church will become part of the “Always Original” trail to connect generations to come within the serene community. This addition will allow the trail to extend to 3.5 miles.

The Town of Cleveland commissioners are working with Healthy Rowan County and Rowan County Moves to improve access to health for members of the town and county by providing access to healthy living. Through a grant, Healthy Rowan County and Rowan County Moves are providing educational material and signage on the walking trail with QR codes to help educate visitors and residents on the healthy living activities that they can incorporate into their daily lives.

“It is always a great day to be from the town of Cleveland in the western part of Rowan County,” said Mayor Pat Phifer. “We invite you to come see how we are growing better, not bigger, and learn more about our wonderful community.”