A real piece of Pauls Valley history can not only be seen but strongly felt during a simple walk through a longtime church building now set to be demolished and replaced.

The history part is kind of tough for members of the local United Methodist Church as they count down the life of a century-old building once was at the very center of the church's worship services.

A few decorative stain glass windows and other items have already been going out for sale as the church looks to soon end years of planning with the demolition of the old sanctuary building that in more recent times has been used as a fellowship hall.

From that comes new life with a modern structure in its place meant to give more to the church and the community.

Pastor Diana Pruitt says right up front it's the church members who are the driving force here as they've been planning this project for about seven years.

“There's a historical significance to the building,” Pruitt said during a recent visit with the PV Democrat.

“It's an amazing building that's done so much for this church and served the community. We want to do something in honor of those who came before us. This is an ongoing commitment to their faith and this community.

“We want to honor the generations from the past who did so much and have something for generations going forward.

“It's about church and community. It's about respecting the past, giving thanks and looking forward for the generations to come.”

A walk around the church campus shows it actually has four parts – the newest sanctuary built in the early 1960s, the former sanctuary built about 100 years ago and separate buildings for offices and classrooms.

Inside the old building a tight walk up through a winding wooden staircase offers a true glimpse into the past.

It leads up to what once served as a balcony overlooking the area that was the sanctuary for decades. Along with a few dusty old seats, some sporting small desk attachments on the side, there are also rooms on the second floor once used for Sunday school classes and offices.

Today the view from that balcony is blocked by ceiling tiles placed above a fellowship hall used for a variety of gatherings over the years, including a community groundhog breakfast each year.

Stepping to the outside a look shows some problems with the building and why church members made the tough decision years ago to begin planning for it to someday come down with its replacement to go up on the very same spot.

“There are some significant issues with it, structural issues,” Pruitt said.

“We hope to start demolition this fall with the construction for the new building to start right away. We will keep as many elements as we can to honor those from the past and move forward into the future.

“We want a more functional building for our church and the community. The whole concept is to have more functional space.

“We will also have a way to access all the buildings without going outside and still be able to get to the prayer garden.”

In preparation for the planned demolition, which could come as early as October, the church started selling some of the stained glass windows from the building.

Pruitt says they started with 53 of the windows with plans for the church to keep 10 of them.

“We don't want to demolish them,” she said. “We're not selling the ones that tell the stories of Jesus and his life. We'll reuse those.”

The old building has some very big features out front – some large columns. In case those big things don't sound familiar, it's the spot where a large nativity scene is placed every Christmas season.

Plans are to try and set those columns up in the small community park right next to the church.

The building also serves as a kind of headquarters for Pauls Valley's Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts.

A construction management team has been hired for the demolition/construction project as a work day to clean out the fellowship hall area is planned for Saturday, Sept. 12.

The plan is to get things organized for a garage sale for the public expected to come fairly soon.

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