Second Baptist Church
As the religious community of the Second Baptist Church in Suffield, Connecticut continued to grow, several large structures were added to their circa 1850’s Sanctuary. These included two classroom additions and a small chapel. These legacy structures were similar in configuration to many church facilities that we have encountered. The functional spaces were distributed over seven different levels, and no two levels in any two structures were at the same elevation. Two of the additions were constructed around a circulation core adjacent to the Sanctuary. This circulation core included a stairway that tied many of these levels together. In 1997 a Building Committee was formed to explore options for increasing the accessibility of their facilities. Through the use of a new, multi-stop elevator and the reconstruction of the stairway to include two ramps, we were able to provide handicapped accessibility throughout a majority of the complex.
During the construction of the accessibility project the Building Committee commissioned a roofing contractor to re-roof the Sanctuary. Unfortunately, the roofing contractor did not understand how the roof of the sanctuary was framed. Several hours after loading his roofing materials on the ridge of the roof in preparation for the start of work, the roof collapsed and the roofing materials fell through the attic and into the Sanctuary. It became necessary to design a new roof structure, which could be put in place quickly to allow for the restoration of the interior.
The congregation took advantage of this tragic occurrence to upgrade and renovate their 150 year old Sanctuary. For this project, our office worked with both a Building Committee and a Decoration Committee. One of the challenges of this restoration was to assist the committee to determine to which period the Sanctuary should be restored to, because it had been renovated twice before. It was too cost prohibitive to replicate some of the detailing, but other details consistent with the architectural style of the building were designed in their place.
In addition to the restoration of the Sanctuary, an earthen crawl space under the Church was replaced with a new concrete basement floor. New mechanical and electrical systems and air conditioning were installed sensitive to preserving the historical style of the church.