Note: This story appears in the Thursday, July 12 newspaper on Page A1.
The church building on the corner of Carpenter and Congress Streets in Athens is undergoing its first major repair project since the Mt. Zion Baptist Church Preservation Society obtained ownership of the structure last year.
Workers started Tuesday to replace the roofing, with the project to also include new gutters, said Ron Luce, treasurer of the preservation society. Luce, who did not have project paperwork in front of him when he spoke to The Messenger, said the cost is about $70,200.
“We were able to do it all through donations,” said Luce, who had earlier mentioned the possibility of borrowing money for the project. He said an anonymous $20,000 donation, $30,000 from the O’Bleness Foundation, $20,000 from the Athens County Foundation and individual contributions have made the project possible.
Luce said the roofing project should be completed within about two weeks.
In total, just over $90,000 has been raised, according to Luce, who said the preservation society has had other expenses, such as utilities, legal fees and taxes.
Work on the building is being done in phases because the full price tag is about $1 million.
“We’re gearing up for the next phase,” Luce said. It will include making the stone facing water tight, replacing doors and windows, drying out the basement and sealing stained glass windows and replacing rotten window framing.
He estimated the cost of the next phase at between $400,000 and $450,000, and said fundraising is starting.
Discussions have been underway about potential future uses of the building.