New chapel is under construction at First United Methodist Church

A groundbreaking ceremony kicks off construction of a new chapel for First United Methodist Church on East Olive Avenue.

A new chapel and courtyard construction project are underway at the First United Methodist Church at 1 E. Olive Ave. in Redlands.

The new glass-sided chapel will be a replica of the one that had to be torn down due to its deteriorating support structure. An adjacent courtyard will be transformed into a multipurpose hardscaped area. A lobby area, connected to the chapel and the main sanctuary will see updates as well.

“It’s exciting to finally break ground on these facilities which have been in development for over a year,” said Lead Pastor Dr. J.T. Greenleaf. “Dike Chapel and the courtyard are widely used by our congregation and for community events we host.”

The original chapel was built in 1971. Last year cracks appeared in several of the large glass wall panels.

“Unfortunately, time and termites took their toll,” said John Biddick, chairman of the church’s building committee. “Though we would have liked to get by with repairs, tearing it down and starting over with steel instead of wood support beams, was the only solution.”

The original chapel design as conceived by local architect Leon Armentrout, specified steel beam construction but it was changed to wood to save money. The reconstruction effort will bring the chapel up to 2019 building standards. Examples include dual-pane windows with tempered glass, fire sprinklers, new footings and grade beam, and insulated aluminum framing and mullions to hold the new glass panes.

Construction is expected to take about three months. All church facilities will remain open while work is underway. The general contractor is Tom Rosaasen of Rosaasen Corp., based in Redlands.

The architect is Shan McNaughton of McNaughton Architecture, Inc. of Redlands.

The approximate project cost is $660,000.