Hornell United Methodist Church Launches Restoration Project


With a prominent location and striking design, Hornell United Presbyterian Church has provided spiritual, cultural and financial support to the greater Maple City area for decades.

And while the church’s spiritual foundations and commitment to the community remain strong, members say the physical building has cracks, especially the facade and the century-old stone towers that rise above the street. Hand.

According to church members, the stone pieces have shifted and in some cases deteriorated, raising safety and structural integrity issues.

The church of about 100 members took action, hiring a contractor to carry out the repairs and launching a fundraising campaign to support the effort.

Bowmansville, New York-based construction contractor RE Kelley began the nearly $250,000 masonry restoration project on May 17. The work is expected to take about three months, weather permitting.

In conjunction with the project, UPC’s “Stones Supporting Our Community” fundraising campaign seeks financial support from individuals, groups and businesses committed to keeping the church active in Hornell.

“Awareness raising is integral to the mission of UPC as we seek to grow in faith and nurture our community,” the Stonework campaign committee said. “We strive to provide a caring fellowship that is welcoming and reaching out to believers and non-believers alike.”

As of May 10, the fundraising campaign had raised $182,000 in banked donations and pledges, the committee reported.

UPC has close ties with the Hornell community

The church’s active role in the community is “something we take very seriously,” said Jim Varner, the church’s session clerk. “We see it as a mission of our church to serve our neighbors and to serve our community. And we try to do that in different ways.”

The Hornell UPC is probably best known for its nativity scene, a life-size depiction of the birth of Christ that has been part of the Christmas season at 150 Main St. since at least the early 1980s. In 2020, the church added a star of Bethlehem in the east tower.

Hornell United Presbyterian Church installed the Star of Bethlehem in the East Tower in 2020, inspired by the late Doug Barnard.

The crèche is an annual destination for many local families each holiday season.

Several community and non-profit groups benefit from the church’s facilities. The facilities serve as a meeting place for Guiding Eyes for the Blind and the Hornell Fortnightly Book Club, host rehearsals for the Hornell Community Choir and Orpheus Chorale, and provide space for workshops and other special events.

“We continue to look for ways to use our building,” Varner said. “We recognize that we have a central location in the city center and that we have space. We like to see the building used. It’s not just there for Sundays, but it’s open to groups who need it. need.”

Over the past few years, the UPC has hosted Sunday meals, socializing, and a free meal prepared and served by a rotating group of churches to over 75 people.

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UPC is also a partner of Hornell’s Community Garden, which in the first three years has provided nearly 1,000 pounds of fresh produce to area pantries.

The green space behind the church is now Krug Park, a community place for reflection and recreation. It is used by students at St. Ann’s Academy as an outdoor playground.

In June, St. Ann’s Academy will hold its graduation ceremony in the sanctuary of the church.

The church also supports Faith in Action, programs that benefit the Salvation Army and the Southern Tier and Steuben County schools food bank.

Stone towers to repair

According to Bill Banker, a member of the UPC Stonework campaign committee, the areas that need to be repaired are more than a century old.

Scaffolding is in place in one of the stone towers at Hornell United Presbyterian Church in May.  RE Kelley, a building restoration contractor, is repairing the towers and facade of the church as part of a nearly $250,000 project.

“The church itself dates back to the 1830s, but there have been extensive renovations over the years,” Banker said. “In 1916 there were wooden towers and they knocked down the wooden towers and built stone towers, and refaced the front of the church with stone.”

Banker said there had been minimal maintenance and repairs to the masonry over the years, but he noted “that with the freeze-thaw cycle of this climate, water enters the mortar joints and cracks and pushes stones around.

“Basically what they’re doing is they’re going to fix all the cracks and the loose stones – they’re going to take them out and put them back in place with new mortar,” he said. “Above the peak they will remove the crowning and cover the top with copper.”

The construction project manual includes detailed descriptions of the restoration, including:

  • Installation of cap flashings on all gable stone capping units at upper and lower cornices;
  • Repoint the stone mortar joints;
  • Mechanically wire wheel, prime and paint all louvers on both towers
  • Reset three displaced stones and replace five damaged stones on and near the east elevation of the building.

how to help

Visit the church’s webpage to access a fundraising pledge form or contact the church directly at 607-324-0755.

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