Work is now under way to give two local heritage buildings a new lease on life.
Ladner United Church and the former Ladner Baptist Church building, which are both more than 100 years old, will begin to see new life in the coming weeks and months.
Last week, scaffolding went up at Ladner United as the exterior work on the church began.
The church, constructed in the Gothic Revival style of architecture, has served the community for 120 years.
It opened in 1893 as St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church and served that congregation until 1925 when it merged with the Ladner Methodist Church and became Ladner United.
The building has undergone some changes over the years. It was raised in the 1930s to allow for the construction of a basement. A hall was added to the south of the original building in 1938 and in the 1970s, a large, single story addition was constructed on the west side of the church.
Despite the changes, the church has maintained its original character throughout the years, however, time and weather have taken their toll.
Exterior repairs, including a new roof, repainting, gutter replacements, outdoor lighting and perimeter draining, will be taking place to protect the building from damage in the coming winter months.
On the interior, the sanctuary will be restored and planned upgrades include, a community kitchen, new offices, refurbished meeting spaces and a designated space for the extreme weather shelter.
Rev. Jim Short said the restoration of the building has been in the works for several years.
"The church members have worked long and hard for this," he said.
The church held a brief ceremony, which included Mayor Lois Jackson and Coun. Ian Paton, Friday morning to kick off the work. In lieu of a ceremonial ground breaking, since no ground is being broken for the project, Jackson and Paton, along with church representatives and builder Steve Knoblauch, whose company RAM Construction is heading the project, started the exterior work with a ceremonial paint scraping.
Another new addition to the church includes a bell for the bell tower.
Short said the church was build with a tower but has never had a bell.
"When I came 11 years ago, one of my goals was to get a bell up in that tower," he said.
A member of a congregation donated the bell. Short said it was cast in Ohio around the same time as the church. The cast steel bell was originally designed to be used in a school or on a farm.
Construction is expected to take about seven months, Knoblauch said, and cost around $2.5 million, even with the Corporation waiving about $250,000 in development cost charges.
"Ladner United Church would like to extend a big work of thanks to the Corporation of Delta, Mayor Lois Jackson, the municipal council, community planning and development, and the engineering department for their support of this project," Short said.
Just a few blocks away, Knoblauch has taken on another heritage church restoration. His company recently started work on restoring the former Ladner Baptist Church building.
The church, which is located on the corner of Delta Street and 47A Avenue, was originally built in 1902. The steeple and two additional rooms were constructed in 1912.
It was sold in the 1970s after the construction of a new Baptist church. It was leased for educational purposes and most recently was home to a daycare, but has been vacant for several months.
While Knoblauch aims to restore the exterior of the building, the interior will be renovated into an office.
In addition to restoring the old church, Knoblauch had applied to build three town homes at the rear of the lot.
The small house behind the church, which was used as a parsonage, was recently demolished. The church building was also moved six feet closer to 47A Avenue to make room for the residences.
While the restoration word has already begun on the church, which requires significant work to repair the deteriorating foundation, council has not yet approved the townhouse development phase of the project.
"It was in pretty bad shape," Knoblauch said of the old church, adding that the tower had sunk by five inches.
Restoring the two churches, which are two of the oldest buildings in Delta, is a labour of love for Knoblauch.
"It's a good feeling," he said.
"I will never in my life get the money back that I put in to save this," he said of the Ladner Baptist building.
The restoration of the church building is scheduled for completion by November.
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