Capitol Hill | 301 A St SE, Washington, DC (corner of 3rd & A St SE) |

May 20, 2018
In This Issue
SPECIAL Gospel According to St. Mark's

From the Reverend Michele H. Morgan, Rector, Nora Howell, Senior Warden
 and Kenn Allen, Junior Warden. 

May 20, 2018

Last year, the Junior Warden and Fabric Committee, with the approval of the Rector, Senior Warden and Vestry, began a process to assess the condition of the exterior of our buildings and to develop a long range plan for repair, restoration and ongoing maintenance. The purpose of this article is to report to you on their work, where we now stand and what lays ahead for us.

With the help of Emily Eig, who has served as our historic preservation consultant for the past eight years, and her firm, Traceries, we identified the Aeon Preservation to undertake that assessment work. Aeon comes to us with extremely high recommendations including from those responsible for the preservation of the National Cathedral. You can learn more about them at  HERE.

As you know, our first major learning was about the emergency repairs that needed to be made on the north front (A Street side), on the tower, and on the exterior of the chapel in response to safety issues Aeon discovered, primarily pieces of sandstone and bricks in danger of falling. That work was completed in the third week of March. The pieces that posed a hazard have been secured in place or, in a few cases, removed.

On May 3,  Michele and Nora joined Kenn and  the Fabric Committee in a meeting with Aeon to review the next iteration of their report on the condition of the building and their recommendations for how we move forward, the timetable and the first rough estimates of the cost for the next phases of work. The news was sobering as we learned that there are both immediate and long-term needs that must be met if we are to preserve our building.

Their written report is quite lengthy, running 664 pages, the majority of which includes pictures and illustrations of the findings. We have created a special page on the website with links to the complete document and a shorter version of topline findings (13 pages). 

Here is a quick overview of near term events:

1. In the next few months. We must remove and rebuild the chimney on the northeast corner of the nave, above the A Street entrance.

The chimney has lost much of its structural integrity, including interior mortar and brick loss, and is rotated and displaced in multiple directions. Aeon is concerned that while it is not in danger of imminent failure, it very well might not withstand a seismic shock. Because it is part of the historic fabric of the church and because we are a historic building under the purview of the Commission of Fine Arts due to our location, we must rebuild it. Thus, at our Vestry meeting today, we received authorization to move ahead with the reconstruction of the chimney, related repairs around it, repairs to the arch across the sidewalk and some pointing on the north wall as a test run for future work.  All of that will be done this summer (hopefully with a July start date). With provision for a contingency, the estimated cost will be $112,200.

2. Major repairs and reconstruction on the tower needs to begin immediately as well, with on-site work to begin in March/April of next year. The current estimated cost for that work is $750,000. We will not have a final cost until we do the intensive work to determine exactly what will be done and what can be deferred or done at a less expensive level. Aeon will work with a sub-group of the Fabric Committee on this process.

3. Next year, as work on the tower is being done, we will turn our focus to the west side of the nave, then the east side, and finally the parish hall wing. In all cases, we want to be sure to deal with safety issues that come up, with the highest priority repairs required.

This feels like a lot of work - and it is. But - and this is key - Aeon estimates that these repairs will have a 50-year life span. So we are investing in the short-term for long-term safety and security. Annual maintenance will, of course, continue to be a necessity, but taking care of this large scale liability will put us on surer footing for our future.

Clearly, this new information has an impact on our plans for the disbursement of the funds being raised as a part of the Extended Vision campaign. With that said, there are still uncertainties regarding the costs and timing of the work that needs to be done, so we ask for your patience as we work to obtain all the information we need.

It is important that you, our membership, feel informed and included in this process. To that end, we are scheduling a major town meeting to raise questions and concerns at 10 AM on Sunday, June 17th with a follow-up session after the 11:15 service and a session after the 5 PM service.

We also urge you to email questions to They will be compiled and we will work with Aeon to get and share back to all the best possible responses.

The spirit of our Vision 2020 campaign is to honor the legacy of those who came before us and strengthen our community for our children and their children. Maintaining the life and structural integrity of our congregation's home is the foundation of this idea and enables the very vision we are creating.

Right now, this feels like an enormous challenge for all of us, indeed a bit like an unclimbable cliff. But perhaps there is comfort in this from First Corinthians 10:13:   " No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing God will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it."  And where that is not true for just one of us, we as a community working together know that God does not give us more than we can handle.

Thank you for your commitment to this community and for your investment in our future.

Michele Morgan                                  Nora Howell                                           Kenn Allen
Rector                                                    Sr. Warden                                              Jr. Warden
An Additional message from Michele, and the Chairs of the Extended Vision 20/20 Campaign, Jackie Boddie and Rob Hall. 

Thank you to all of early pledgers in our Extended Vision 2020 capital campaign. As of today, on the strength of 48 pledges, we have raised over $825,000 in pledge commitments.

We have some very important updates for the campaign that we want to share with you. Our structural review from our historic preservation architects and engineers has come back with a number of specific and critical recommendations for steps we need to take to ensure our building is safe and secure for both current and future use. The most troubling aspects of the report are the revelation that that the north facing chimney on the front of the church as well as certain portions of the steeple tower are in urgent need of repair.

Knowing that some of these additional repair items were outside of the initial scope of our Extended Vision 2020 campaign, we have made a strong effort to identify other resources that we might be able access to assist us in tackling these fundamental safety and preservation issues. We have conducted a survey of foundation and grant resources that we might be able to use to assist us in our campaign. Through the National Fund for Sacred Places, we hope to qualify for a 2:1 match of up to $250,000. To receive such a grant we would need to raise $500,000 in additional resources---after October 1, 2018---which is when their next challenge grant year starts. We have submitted an expression of interest to the National Fund and will know by June 30th if we will be asked to submit a formal grant application. Therefore, we are pausing the campaign until June 30th.

Please continue to keep this campaign and your possible gift in mind in the weeks ahead. We will back in touch to update you as to when we will restart the campaign.

All our best and God's Peace,

Michele, Jackie and Rob

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