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  • Ripley Chapel Renovation:  Final Design Set!

    The Ripley Chapel Working Group has decided on the Final Design for the renovation of Ripley Chapel. This past March, as you may recall, the Working Group called for a pause in the work with Torrey Architecture, Inc. and Kaplan Construction to finalize a design because the estimated costs of the design we were working on were coming in extremely high. The costs were well over the budget we had set for ourselves which in turn was based on the generosity of the congregation expressed in the fund raising campaign completed in September 2017.

    So we circled back and re-examined all the design ideas we had studied as well as reviewed the guidance we were given from the Congregation at the 2017 Annual Meeting. We challenged some assumptions that had guided the design work during the winter. We needed to determine exactly what requirements for handicapped access had to be included and what those costs would be. In particular we were trying to understand what the raised chancel would require for access. The winter work had included a number of very expensive solutions to provide full access to that level.

    We were fortunate to be able to ask for guidance from two members of our church who are architects, Jennifer Miller and Andrew Sansom. They helped us understand how the accessibility rules can be applied with some flexibility to smaller renovation type projects; the rules don’t mandate 100% accessibility in 100% of all circumstances. The Working Group is determined to make the “new” Ripley a place where all feel welcome and to achieve that in a cost effective manner.

    The Working Group has revised its description of the improvements and changes to be included in the renovation (see full write up below). The Final Design will include fully handicapped accessible doors – the Ripley Chapel entrance door from the outside and the Chapel entry door at the hallway. We plan to leave the chancel level mostly as is, removing the tiered floor and adding railings to the current steps. The large concrete altar will go. Many other code improvements will be included such as more fire sprinklers, improved electrical, and plumbing. New flooring will be laid over the current tile floor. And we are planning for a new clear glass window to be placed underneath the stained glass “Mother’s window” at the back wall of the chancel that will afford a view of Wedge Pond behind the church.

    Our next steps are as follows (fingers crossed to achieve the dates indicated):

    1. Complete drawings and other documents needed to solicit bids from contractors. (September)
    2. Solicit bids – we are seeking at least three bids, one or two of which would be from local Winchester general contractors. (September/October).
    3. Obtain approval from Congregation to award bid based on final design and bid costs. Award bid. (October)
    4. Begin construction (late fall)
    5. Complete construction (mid winter, based on an eight week construction schedule)

    —Bruce Alexander for the Ripley Working Group: Rev. Will Burhans, Rev. Judy Arnold, Jane Ring Frank, Laurie Roby, Carolyn Plosky, Bruce Alexander and Penny Sparrow, Church Moderator

    Modified Final Design with Option A steps, July 2018

    Final Design Description/Specifications

    Overview: The goal of the Ripley Chapel renovation is to improve this underused sacred space to one with flexible seating and potential for multiple uses while retaining the historical character of the room. It will continue as a worship space as its primary function. Most of the work is repair and refresh with a few key improvements of improved doors and an added window.

    Governance: This project is being managed by the Ripley Chapel Working Group. Led by Bruce Alexander, Project Leader (church member) and Rev. Will Burhans (Lead Pastor), Rev. Judy Arnold (Associate Pastor), Jane Ring Frank (Minister of Music and Worship Arts), Laurie Roby (church member), Carolyn Plosky (church member) and Penny Sparrow (Church Moderator).


    Final Design Details:

    Floor: Prepare existing tile surface for flooring overlay. Install floating engineered wood flooring over padding (such as Siena 600 series or similar). Repair/replace baseboards as needed for floor. This will be done for the nave level as well as the chancel level and its steps. A transition for the flooring will be placed at the main chapel door to meet the existing tile flooring in the outside hallway. Floor area is approximately 1260 sq.ft.

    Chancel Level: Remove the current wooden floor tiers to bring the entire chancel to the structural floor level. Overlay the existing concrete/tile steps and chancel edge with new wood surfacing. Flooring to be as noted above. Floor area is approximately 260 sq.ft. Steps to have railings on each end. Note: This design (Option A) should not invoke full compliance with MAAB accessibility standards.

    Walls: Repair and repaint. New or refurbished baseboards. Possible picture hanging rails on side walls. About 2,950 sq. ft. Note: repair of large hole on north wall must wait for replacement of radiator – see heating description below.

    Ceiling: Repair and paint. Install acoustic panels. (Likely supplier, Vibrasciences, Branford, CT, exact specifications TBD) Clean, repair wooden beams and associated carvings.

    Windows: Install new clear window per architect design underneath existing stained glass window on west wall (“Mother’s Window”). Approx. 6’ x 6’. Remove plastic exterior covers of stained glass windows; repair and make weather tight as needed.

    Lighting and electrical: Clean/restore existing chandeliers and provide dimmable LED bulbs. Similar bulbs to replace current bulbs in chancel. Light switches to be relocated from hallway to interior rear wall with dimmer controls. Add plug receptacles on side and rear walls and in chancel. Wire for audio and network cabling per A/V vendor specification.

    Fire sprinklers: Expand existing fire sprinklers to serve entire room in compliance with current code.

    Heating/Ventilation: Retain steam heat system. Replace ruptured cast iron radiator in north wall; restore metal convection channel and reconnect to capped off steam pipes. Relocate existing steam radiators and steam pipes underneath Mother’s Window to chancel’s south wall inside enclosure (to be fabricated). Consider fresh air ventilation improvements, possibly using existing fresh air damper channels on north wall.


    1. Chapel door – replace existing doors with ADA compliant door per design by architect.
    2. Exterior entry door (Ripley Chapel entrance) – replace existing doors with ADA compliant door with power assist per design by architect.
    3. Inner vestibule doors – remove.
    4. Stairwell door – retain as is.

    Rear stairwell: Remove peeling paint and repair walls as needed. Repaint and secure/improve railings as needed for safety.

    FCCW will be providing stackable chairs and other furniture as well as the audio/visual system improvements to the space.