Strength restored

Two months ago, the walls of Calvary Baptist Church were nearly falling down.

The church’s century-old concrete crumbled, and members say whole bricks could be pulled out of the sanctuary’s brick-and-mortar frame.

“Columns were falling down and there wasn’t any concrete left in the walls,” said Charles Doty, chairman of property management at Calvary.

“It didn’t look like it was occupied it was in such bad shape.”

The church demanded a fix — and fast — before the walls came tumbling down or became too damaged for rescue.

The church reached out to area contractors, and now — after months of decisions, planning and construction — the 100-year-old building and its members finally have their salvation.

Crews finished large-scale renovations to Calvary Baptist Church’s sanctuary this month at 11 E. “C” St. in Newton.

Classic Home Renovations re-mortared the church’s exterior walls, re-sealed the roof and added new gutters and window covers to the building, said contractor Mark Childers.

“Over time, the deterioration of the walls was making it structurally unsound. I’m glad we got it when we did, because some of those walls might have been on the ground after one more winter,” Childers said.

The church, which was built in 1887, has had three different groups occupy its chambers. After originally being built for Catawba College, Grace Reformed Church of Newton purchased and occupied the church until Calvary entered in 1958.

Childers said bad weather and age wore on the building over time. During construction, his crews had to scratch every joint out at least half an inch to find good concrete.

“We re-mortared the entire church,” Childers said, adding that the project gave the church a new grayish, taupe-like color.

The church’s exterior brick was originally red, but church members liked the new color so much that it stayed.

Today, the church’s new look pops and stands out as drivers make their way down South Main Avenue in Newton. White detailing sticks out as it runs along the soft, taupe brick and shiny stained glass.

“Before, it didn’t have the brilliance it has now,” said Calvary Secretary Patricia Estes. “It’s beautiful now, and we can’t wait to get it landscaped.”

In addition to the heavy-duty wall work, Classic Home Renovations also installed new gutters, as well as new covers for the church’s stained-glass windows.

Before the renovation, Calvary’s many stained-glass windows were covered with a window film that was deteriorating rapidly. The film’s haziness prevented sunlight from properly exposing the brilliance of the windows installed from 1901-1911 inside the church.

Now, the windows are covered with a new pliable material that is translucent and exposes the rich colors entrapped in the glass. On Tuesday, a 10 a.m. sun hit the south end of the sanctuary and blew deep reds, purples and teals into the building. Light flowed down onto a stack of Baptist hymnals sitting adjacent to a summer scene of Jesus holding a baby lamb. The words “Holy Bible” sparkled on a Calvary pew with each blink of the eye.

“The colors shine and look like they are supposed to now,” Estes said of the stained-glass windows. “They are something we are really proud of.”

Next, Calvary will landscape the area surrounding the new and improved church. Doty said that project will probably start after the winter season passes.

He thinks the church’s improvements will not only benefit current members, but also attract prospective residents to join. Childers has the same hopes.

“I’m so happy for them because we took their church and made it more structurally sound and really improved the looks of it,” he said. “I’m hoping that’s going to attract more members for them in the future."