Historical Restoration

Old Bluff Presbyterian Church

Location: Wade, North Carolina

Contractor: M&E Contracting

This historic church was built in 1858 and first renovated in 1929. The current congregation was meeting in a new church, but returned to Old Bluff Church a couple of times a year, particularly for the Homecoming service. Our office was first contacted to determine the cause of a bounce in the floor on the right side of the church. It was during that exploration that we determined that there was extensive insect damage in the perimeter timber girders and columns that were supporting a balcony and the roof. We also observed the first floor was sloping towards the exterior walls as a result of differential settlement. The slope in the first floor in combination with eccentric loading on the perimeter girder by the columns had caused the interior columns supporting the balcony and roof to hinge and noticeably displace at the balcony level.  This displacement at the balcony level was also observed in the exterior sidewalls along with rotation of the perimeter girder along the foundation wall.

The balcony extended along the perimeter of three sides of the church with the central area open sanctuary. We worked closely with the contractor to slowly re-align the balcony columns and exterior walls with a jacking system. Our office designed new tie-beams that connected the balconies across the sanctuary. We detailed the new wood architectural wrapping of the tie beams to match and blend in with the intricate layers of existing wood trim. The balcony framing over the entrance way was also found to be significantly deflected and was strengthened with steel channels concealed within the balcony floor framing.

The excessively damaged sections of perimeter girders along the foundation wall were removed and replaced with new treated timbers. Tie rods were added in the crawlspace to connect the sidewall perimeter girders and prevent them from rotation.