Written by Jim Patterson, edited/compiled by Jessica Spracklen
On Saturday August 17, 2013, a major structural problem was discovered in the St. Anne Church Sacristy. The Sacristy floor along the corner of the south and east brick walls had dropped unexpectedly around five to six inches, and the cupboards hanging on the south wall were about to fall. On Monday August 19th, a structural engineer from DCI Engineering in Spokane was called out to prepare a survey of the problem and to make possible remedial and emergency corrective actions. Further investigation of the Sacristy's approximate eighteen-inch crawl space revealed the 2"x12" floor trusses sheared off where they sat on the east wall cement foundation, due to dry rot of the timbers from excessive moisture in the crawl space.
Interestingly, the St. Anne historical book, How Silently (Fr. Kowrach, 1963), indicated that the main sanctuary had the same floor structural problem in 1957 and all the sanctuary flooring had to be replaced. The church was built in 1931 with used bricks from a nearby house that was being torn down. These bricks were previously made in a Medical Lake brick factory in 1889. That explains why some of the bricks were showing deterioration on the exterior of the bell tower when the church was re-sided in the early 2000s.
Our parish community moved temporarily into our Parish Hall for Masses and all other parish functions. On August 29th, DCI recommended that the existing floor in the Sacristy and Bell Tower be removed and replaced. This recommendation included removing the floor joists across the full extent of the rooms between the interior and exterior bearing walls. At the interior bearing wall, the joists appeared to be spliced adjacent to the existing joists under the altar area. Debris from the previous floor repair jobs was apparent and needed to be removed in the crawl space.
New pressure treated 2"x12" joists on 16" centers needed to be installed with the joists set into the existing foundation wall pockets. Adequate outside airflow and ventilation in the crawl spaces was recommended to reduce the excessive moisture in the crawl space soil.
On October 6th, a proposal was received from architect Jim McArthur of Spokane. Mr. McArthur was the architect who designed the existing Parish Hall and prepared preliminary plans for a new church building adjacent to the Parish Hall, if and when a decision to build a new building is made.
On October 13th, additional crawl space access holes were cut into the church floors on the north end of the Nave, and the west side of the Bell Tower. Additional rotted flooring and rotted floor joist was apparent. Each additional investigation revealed more problem areas and it was decided that all wood floors in the church were suspect of having dry rot present. The Parish Council and Finance Committee approved the hiring of Mr. McArthur for $600.00 to do the design and construction bid drawings for repairing the church's floors, by now including the Sacristy, Bell Tower, furnace room, Altar area, and the original center wood floored portions of the Nave.
On October 28th McArthur's plans were reviewed by the Building Committee with two alternatives offered: A) Remove all the existing wood floors in the church, install a plastic vapor barrier on top of the crawl space soil, and then install new floor systems with pressure-treated floor joists and flooring; or B) Remove all the wood flooring, fill the crawl spaces with compactable gravel to 4" of the final floor elevation, lay a plastic vapor barrier on top of the gravel, and then pour 4" of concrete on top to create the new floor surface.
Both recommendations included correcting a longterm problem of storm water drainage off the roof of the church and off the adjacent streets and parking lots surrounding the church, with the storm and landscape irrigation waters all flowing toward the church structure. This was deemed the root cause of the excessive moisture levels in the crawl spaces, which then caused rotting of the wood floor joists. Option B was selected as the preferential corrective path since it eliminated all the wood flooring systems and therefore was deemed a permanent solution to all future rotting problems.
After four contractor bids were received throughout the month of December, we received Diocesan approval to proceed with the repairs on December 31, 2013. The winning bidder was Evergreen Construction of Reardan, WA. Brian Nilles, the contractor, had coincidentally gone to St. Anne's during his youth and had been baptized there. His parents still attend Mass at St. Anne. He and his family also attend our sister parish, St. Michael's (Reardan). So there were some longterm family ties emotionally and spiritually between the Nilles and St. Anne Parish.
Construction was started on January 17, 2014 and was completed on March 19, 2014. Along with the interior church repairs, the church interior was completely repainted, new carpeting was installed in the entire church, updated Sacristy cabinets were installed, and several electrical/plumbing updates were made. The first Masses held in the newly repaired church were the weekend of March 22nd & 23rd, 2014. Just in time for Easter!
A repair budget of $50,000 was established for which about $49,000 was collected as the result of many fundraisers held jointly by the parishioners, and by many individual sacrificial contributions. The church's interior flooring repairs amounted to approximately $36,000. The balance of the collected funds will be used to correct the exterior storm water drainage problems that have plagued the church since its construction in 1931. That work is scheduled for Summer 2014.
A huge thank you to all those that helped in some way to repair our beloved church. We couldn't have done this without the dedication, hard work, time, resources, teamwork, generosity, and love that came from our parish community. Hopefully these repairs will keep our church foundations strong for a long time! May God bless each and every one of you.