© Amber Nicholson/Journal Pioneer
Katie Smith helps her grandmother Earith Ramsay pack up bibles at the Summerside Presbyterian Church on Tuesday to prepare for the congregation's move to the Waterfront Mall. Services are being held at the mall while the SPC is demolished and a new one is constructed. Ramsay is the church administrator.
SUMMERSIDE - The Summerside Presbyterian Church on Victoria Road, across from Three Oaks Senior High, has seen its final service.
The 42-year-old building is set for demolition in the coming weeks.
The church's building committee chair, Leonard Russell, says the high number of upgrades necessary to restore the church caused the congregation to vote against restoration and in favour of building a new structure.
"Committees have been looking for the past three or four years now at what was the best thing to do - try to make changes to the existing structures or build a new one," said Russell, who has been involved with the church since he moved to Summerside in 1977. "It was decided fairly early in the process that the cost of doing what had to be done to resolve all of the issues was almost the same price as a new building."
Russell attributes many of the building's issues with its flat roof. He says the city's track record of buildings with flat roofs speaks for itself.
"You don't have to look very far to find buildings built at the same time with a flat roof that tend to have problems with roof leaks and that sort of thing. The Athena school was the same...it's wrong to categorize and to say all of the buildings with these flat roofs had problems, but they did.
"It's kind of too bad to take down a building that has been part of the lives of so many people for 40 years, but if it has to be done, it has to be done."
Russell says some of the renovations that would have been required to restore the existing building would include roof and window replacement, a new heating system, new insulation and more.
Construction of the new church is planned to begin in April with a projected cost of about $1.2 million. A detailed floor plan of the new church, which can be viewed online at http://summersidepresbyterianpei.ca, shows the building will consist of five washrooms, three storage rooms, two offices, a kitchen, banquet hall, choir room, classroom, nursery and sanctuary.
During the planning process, Russell said a popular request from the congregation was that the new building resemble a traditional church more than their current building does.
"That was what everybody wanted. A building that looks like a traditional church with arch windows and a steeple and that's what they will get," he said.
The estimated completion date for the new church is Sept. 30.
Members of the church are busy this week preparing to move to their temporary home. Beginning Sunday, church services will be held in the former Summerside Regional Development Corp. space at the Waterfront Mall, which has recently been used by Moase Funeral Home. The church will be using space at the mall to host their worships, offices and storage until their new church is built and ready for occupancy.