Project: "Saving Grace," The African American Grace Church Restoration And Creation Of The Grace Heritage Site
We've prepared a 5 minute video, "Saving Grace Church" to the right of this page to tell the story of this building and the purpose of this project.
We have also started a dedicated website for the project at https://www.savinggraceproject.org/.
The Lincoln Preservation Foundation and the Trustees of the Grace United Methodist Episcopal Church joined hands to bring this historic building on Brooks Lane in Lincoln back to life and adapt it to new purposes. Initially dubbed the "Saving Grace" project, LPF and Grace developed detailed plans for protecting the structure from further damage, restoring the cellar rooms, the sanctuary, windows, doors, ceiling, roof, bell cupola, furniture, and grounds. David Logan, owner of Vintage Restoration, Inc., prepared the initial restoration plan. Bill Testa provided detailed drawings and plans for restoration of the cellar and prepared requests for County permits. During 2013 and 2014, the Grace Trustees formed a private, non-profit organization, "The Friends of Grace," and began the process of transferring the building ownership to the non-profit so that it could seek preservation grants from a wide array of institutions.
Current plans call for an exhibit area in the lower level, highlighting the role of local African American military veterans. The sanctuary will be restored to its original appearance with period lighting and the original pews.
Project Started: 2003
Planned Completion: 2022
Funding Required: Yes
Current Funding: We currently have raised enough funds to stabilize the building and complete major structural repairs to the flooring and entrance steps.
Lead: Friends of Grace
Key Contacts: Jeff Jackson, Carol Dukes, Reggie Simms
A restored building with a display area with artifacts, photographs, and recognition of important people.
The facility could be used for educational or social events.
Numerous individual donors have contributed to our annual campaign over the years. Funds have been used to patch and protect the damaged roof, re-point the stonework, board up windows, install lockable doors, remove dead trees, stabilize the walls., repair and replace floor joists, install subflooring, and repair concrete and stone entrance steps.
To prepare for major restoration work we have begun raising funds and obtaining material gifts. For fundraisers, LPF arranged the showing of the film “To Kill a Mocking Bird” with a reception including some of the film’s actors. An ensemble of Gullah performers filled the skating rink in Purcellville to a sold out fundraising concert. With the help of local film producer Peter Buck and artists Drew Babb and Sarah Huntington, LPF recorded a DVD illustrating the church’s historical background including a reenactment of the 19th Century Grace congregation marching to the church. This DVD has been shown at numerous bazaars, demonstrations, and community meetings to inform the public about the history of the church and to promote gifts for the restoration project. LPF won a grant of $6,000 from the Loudoun Preservation Society to help fund repairs and restoration. LPF also attempted to win a federal restoration grant but were unsuccessful due to the building’s legal status as a church (this status changed later, with the establishment of the Friends of Grace nonprofit). Working through local contractors including David Duffy of Turner Construction, LPF solicited and received grants of building materials that will be used for restoration, including hardwood flooring to complete the first floor. The trustees of the Friends of Grace donated original church pews. David Logan removed the church bell and cupola from the disintegrating roof for safekeeping. We currently estimate the entire restoration project will cost $300,000 so we have a great need to raise additional funds and acquire more materials.
LPF determined to conduct an archaeological survey before any of the grounds could be disturbed by construction equipment. A team of volunteers from Lincoln, Purcellville, and Fairfax, led by archaeologist Bob Shuey, conducted a thorough surface reconnaissance and excavated over 30 shovel test pits and several test units, unearthing numerous glass, ceramic, and metal artifacts from the late 19th Century and early 20th Century.
Much of the debris on the church property was of no archaeological significance and had to be cleared along with fallen trees and grave goods from the cemetery. Volunteer work parties handled these chores as well as removing debris from the cellar floor. We also had to level the cellar floors in preparation for pouring concrete. Because holes in the roof allowed water, birds, and animals into the building, many of the rafters and joists, and nearly all the floorboards were rotten and some were damaged by termites. Again volunteers from LPF, Grace, and the Lincoln community contributed their sweat equity to remove the damaged wood. Scott Ferguson used discarded oak joists to build a beautiful pew/bench which he offered up for an LPF fundraising auction.
To prevent debris and wildlife from entering the hazardous spaces LPF secured the building by boarding the window and door openings and covering deteriorated sections of the roof. A contractor made structural repairs to a deteriorating stone wall and window opening.
LPF made several efforts to prevent water from causing more damage. Initially, blue tarps were spread over the metal roof and secured with ropes. Storms tore the tarps, so local contractor Dave Daley then covered the damaged portions of the roof with large sections of sheet metal secured to the old roof with screws.
LPF has made tremendous efforts to restore this Lincoln building and preserve an important monument to the village heritage. It will reinforce and protect memories of the hard work of diverse groups to build the community in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. Combined efforts of LPF, Friends of Grace, citizens of the Goose Creek Rural Historic District and beyond will be needed to complete this challenging project.
In 2004, Sarah Huntington took a series of photographs of the church's interior and exterior for reconstruction purposes. The gravel driveway was redone. The building's doors and windows were boarded up to prevent trespassers and critters from gaining access. Intensive research began regarding the building's history.
In 2005, an archaeological dig, led by Bob Shuey started. Numerous artifacts were uncovered and catalogued; mostly consisting of pottery shards, buttons, bottles, and parts of an old wood stove.
The church bell and bellfry were removed and placed in safe storage by David Logan of Vintage Renovation.
Flooring Solutions Inc of Sterling, Virginia donated flooring materials to the project. The donation valued $8700 will provide building materials for the restoration of the floors and ceiling.
David Duffy of Turner Construction partnered with the foundation and asked Flooring Solutions owner Farzi Syed if he would help. Mr. Syed read up on the project and agreed right away. “It just seemed like a good idea,” said Flooring Solutions spokesman, Mike Tafaro.
Work sped up in 2019, and volunteers, under the direction of Allen Cochran and George Caison, replaced floor joists and installed wide-plank sub flooring from locally sourced lumber, cut at a local sawmill. The concrete entrance steps were also repaired. The original church pews and the original set of fine upholstered chairs were returned to the sanctuary.