St. John’s Episcopal Church keeps renovating
Doug Ramsay photo
Earlier this year, Steve Kenagy climbed ladders to show a Tribune photographer the interior condition of the 128-year-old steeple at St. John's Episcopal Church in Snohomish, which underwent fixes this summer to correct its lean. The church plans to do more improvements in coming years.
SNOHOMISH — For more than a century, the steeple of St. John's Episcopal Church at 913 Second St. has been a city landmark.
Now church parishioners are planning a second round of fundraising to ensure the icon will endure for the next 100 years.
The new campaign would come on the heels of a three-year fundraiser completed in July that raised $640,000.
Though that exceeded the campaign goal by $40,000, much more is still needed.
Recently discovered issues and COVID-19 impacts have already pushed work on St. John's — a mix of repairs, renovation, and new construction — well past its initial $1.6 million estimate.
"We're a small church," said Chris Bee, "but it's a big project."
Bee and husband Steve Kenagy help lead fundraising and planning. Candace McKenna and Eric Fritch also are involved in the campaign. Planning began years ago.
Besides capital campaigns, money for the improvements comes from interest on a church endowment fund.
"We're trying to take care of immediate needs first," Kenagy said.
The most pressing concern was righting the steeple, which was tipping toward Second Street.
The steeple work was accomplished last summer in construction that re-routed traffic. New bathrooms and exit stairs were also installed, and the electrical system was modernized, doubling capacity.
From the outside, St. John’s maintains its original New England-based design, with steep-pitched A-frame roofs and the famed white cross on the peak of the steeple.
“The whole idea is to retain the historical feel of the church,” Bee said.
St. John’s was built in 1893 (for $250!) and has since undergone several renovations and improvements.
Its parish hall, built in 1929, has served as a basketball court, dining room, dance floor, and general community gathering space.
St. John’s is one of the earliest churches in the Diocese of Olympia, and one of few in Washington to operate continuously as a church since its construction.
“Being a church that is over 125 years old….our building has compelling needs for repairs and upgrades and we want to grow the opportunities to provide more service and ministries,” wrote John Gray, chair of the previous capital campaign, in a 2020 letter to parishioners.
Church leaders have not yet decided on a name for the new fundraiser or on a contribution goal. The last campaign was titled “Invest in Our Future - Build Community.”
The church has submitted designs and permit requests to the city. If all goes smoothly, construction will re-route traffic again in the summer of 2022 and be wrapped up by the fall.
Meanwhile leaders are busy writing grants and planning for what Bee said will be a “robust” capital campaign.
“Once (renovation) gets going, it’s like a monster,” Kenagy said. “And yes, you do have to feed it.”
Photo courtesy Candace McKenna
St. John’s Episcopal Church began worship services in 1893.
Tribune staff photo
The front of St. John’s on Second Street as seen today.
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