Church Renovations & Additions  Preservation / Adaptive Reuse  Religious

St. John’s Episcopal Church commissioned a long-term master plan for the historic church and other existing facilities on two blocks in downtown Tallahassee, Florida. Heimsath Architects conducted an initial building condition assessment and identified a number of deficiencies in the historic church and the associated buildings. These issues were presented to the congregation as part of a highly interactive master planning process.

The final master plan recommendations included a major preservation program for the historic church as part of the overall vision. Other recommendations call for a series of renovations, additions, and new construction to solve major facilities challenges. The new Welcome Center addition, when fully implemented, will connect four different levels on the main block. The master plan also envisions new construction on the adjacent block to house a new Bookstore and a new Fellowship Hall and to create garage parking. Check out the St. John's Episcopal Church Master Plan project page for more details.

Embarking on the Phase One Project, Heimsath Architects was joined by local associates, Gilchrist, Ross, and Crowe. The work was organized into stages with historic preservation having the highest priority. The preservation scope included replacing the asphalt shingle roof with composite slate roof and installing self-adhesive underlayment. Existing copper gutters were salvaged and reinstalled. Existing metal downspouts were replaced with new copper downspouts and connected to a new underground drainage system. Stained glass windows were restored, repaired, and a new vented protection system was installed on the exterior. 

To address structural issues, the team commissioned local structural engineers Bliss and Nyitray and brought in the expertise of Craig Bennett from Bennett Preservation Engineering in Charleston, SC. Waterproofing and French drains were installed along the perimeter of the church’s foundation walls. Exterior bricks were cleaned and missing and damaged mortar joints were repointed. Tie rods were installed to the bell tower to reinforce the structure, and a new plywood diaphragm was installed on the roof of the church to provide additional bracing for the tower. 

The architects assisted in obtaining matching grants to fund the work and negotiated with Tallahassee officials to stage construction to expedite the schedule while design work continued on the non-historic renovations.