Church getting repaired stone by stone

May 25, 2012
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(Gazette Photo by John Ruch) Scaffolding and removed stones sit around St. John’s Episcopal Church earlier this month.

SUMNER HILL—The historic St. John’s Episcopal Church is undergoing major repairs for “incredible damage” caused by water in its stone walls, according to the chair of the church’s capital campaign.

Some exterior walls on the 1880s church at Roanoke Avenue and Revere Street are being taken down stone by stone for repair. The stones are being numbered and will be put back in the same order, according to Thomas Burgess, project manager for the architecture firm Menders, Torrey & Spencer.

Nicole Parsons, the church’s capital campaign chair, said there are concerns that the wall problems eventually could affect some “precious” stained glass windows. They include one from the abolitionist era that depicts a black Madonna, “which is so very JP,” she said.

Repairs began on April 23 and will wrap up by the end of June. The Pine Village preschool that operates in the building on weekdays is remaining open.

The church has been undergoing various repairs in stages over the past several years. The building’s entire exterior needs repair work, according to Burgess, but the current repairs are targeting the most urgent spot. That is on the Revere Street side in section that is a relatively recent addition to the historic building.

Parsons said that St. John’s once got an estimate of about $2 million for all of its repair needs. The church can’t afford anything like that, she said, so it is doing work bit by bit. The current repairs are being partly funded by the Massachusetts Historical Commission and the Henderson Foundation Fund. But the church is gearing up for significant fund-raising of its own.

St. John’s has been in Jamaica Plain since the 1830s. According to Michael Reiskind of the Jamaica Plain Historical Society, its original church building was on its namesake St. John’s Street in central JP. That building no longer exists.

For more information, see st.johns-jp.org.