Upgrades to turn church into Marble cornerstone
When the expansion and renovation of the historic Marble Community Church is complete, folks will enjoy a cozy place for worship and other gatherings, and there’ll be a courtyard for an added outdoor touch.
“The courtyard will be a wonderful mountain garden,” said Katie Updike, the church board’s chairwoman.
Members of the 117-year-old Marble Community Church recently announced plans to kick off a capital campaign to fund the expansion and renovation.
First, the church plans to build a 1,000-square-foot fellowship hall, which will connect with the back side of the existing church via a hallway, Updike said.
Aided by a Colorado Historical Society grant the church expects to receive, the second phase will see the renovation of the two-room church, which is on the National Historic Register.
Updike said the church roof is in good shape. “But the under-structure is in poor condition … We’re going to look at every board and nail, and beef up the insulation.”
The courtyard will be located between the existing church and new fellowship hall. The church itself is located in what passes for the center of Marble, near the Marble bank building and the Marble General Store.
“This will be quite a cornerstone,” Updike said.
Updike said the church is already used for other functions such as concerts, and the expansion and courtyard should help in those efforts.
The clapboard church has a well-known local history. It was built in Aspen in 1885 and called St. John’s Episcopal Chapel, said church minister Linda Arocha-Boylan. With Aspen on the down and outs after the turn of the century, the structure was moved on rail in 1908 to the boomtown of Marble.
The church fell into disuse in the early 1940s after a mudslide wiped out much of the town and the Marble quarry closed down.
A pair of teenagers cleaned up the building and opened it for community prayer meetings in the 1950s.
The Marble Community Church later incorporated, and the Episcopal Diocese deeded the property to the Marble Community Church in 1985.
Through the 1980s and into the late 1990s, church services were held mostly in the summertime when tourists and other visitors filled the pews. When Boylan was named pastor five years ago, services were held only in the summer, but three years later the church went to a year-round schedule.
“At first, we averaged about 10 to 15 in the winter, but now the winter average is about 50 every Sunday,” Boylan said.
The expansion and renovation project is attracting local volunteers and summertime members. Updike said an illustrator in Memphis is donating drawings for the new building.
On the local front, “all the key people you’d want with knowledge about building, fund-raising and laws are in our church,” Boylan said. “We don’t have to look elsewhere.”
Updike said the church hopes to start construction on the fellowship hall this summer, and begin the renovation this fall or next year.
The capital campaign will be unveiled at a presentation at the Redstone Inn at noon on Sunday, March 3. Lunch will be served. Boylan will also sing with David Bluefield and the Network Band.
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