June 26, 2010 in Washington Voices

Congregation funds remodeling

Millwood Presbyterian finishing up second phase of project to ease accessibility for disabled visitors
By The Spokesman-Review

Matt Bartholomew of Modern Drywall works in the new entrance of Millwood Presbyterian Church. The remodeled front entrance as well as new handicapped access was paid for entirely by donations.
(Full-size photo)

The congregation of Millwood Presbyterian Church has stepped up with cash in hand to pay for construction work to improve access to the historic church and make it more compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The first phase, completed four months ago, turned the library into handicap accessible bathrooms, added kids restrooms in the basement and remodeled the church office. The second phase to change the entry of the church is nearly complete. The wheelchair ramp was too steep and is being replaced. When someone entered the church, they had to climb stairs no matter which direction they went. “To get anywhere you had to go up four steps,” said the Rev. Craig Goodwin. “It was just not very ideal.”

The floor has been raised to eliminate the steps. Walls have been removed to make it more open. An additional set of double doors has been added in the front along with a wall of glass windows to let in light and sun. The sidewalk and front steps will have radiant heat, which will hopefully eliminate ice and snow in the winter. “That was the one concern we heard about the steps being outside,” Goodwin said. “This seemed like a good solution.”

And it has all been paid for up front. “People have really stepped up,” Goodwin said. “God has provided. We haven’t had to borrow any money.”

Goodwin estimates the church has spent about $500,000 so far. A portion of that was donated by the estate of Clyde and Elaine Clark, who died in 2008. Clyde Clark had been the church’s maintenance man for many years and Elaine Clark had been confined to a wheelchair for the last 15 years of her life after having a stroke. Goodwin said he thinks they would have liked to see their money used to make the church more accessible. “It seemed like a fitting legacy for the funds they left to the church to be used in that way,” he said.

A third phase is planned, but the timeline isn’t certain. The project to tear down and replace the current education building, constructed in the 1920s, is estimated to cost about the same as the first two phases. Goodwin said the church is trying to sell two homes it owns to raise money, and another capital campaign will be conducted.

The old education building doesn’t have the large multipurpose space the church needs, Goodwin said. “It’s very compartmentalized space,” he said. “It just doesn’t meet the needs of the activities.”

Goodwin said he doesn’t mind the time and money being spent on the building. “We really do see it as investing in the future of our ministry in the community,” he said. “The building gets a lot of use. There’s always people coming in and out of here, which is great.”

Meanwhile, members are thrilled to see the changes in the church. “I think everyone is excited,” he said.

A grand opening/open house to show off the church’s new look will be held in September after everyone returns from summer vacations.

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