Excavation and Enlargement of Nave of Old Church
The basement, which was to be used as a children’s chapel, was completed in 1943 shortly after Easter, and dedicated on May 16 in conjunction with the services of the 13th Anniversary of the church’s founding. The Reverend Arthur E. Enquist, pastor of Trinity Church, was the guest speaker at the 8 o’clock evening service celebrating the anniversary. The night program was held in the newly completed basement of the church. Also appearing on the program was the talented vocal trio composed of three WTHS seniors, Arlene Jass, Doris Hipple, and Ruth Hjelmeland. The finishing of the basement represented the largest completed endeavor since the founding of the church in 1930. Mr. Jens Otteson was responsible for the carpentry work. The Church council authorized the immediate payment of the remainder of the debt incurred.
Also, at that time, the building committee announced the completion of the enlargement of the nave of the church. This committee, composed of Peter Hansen, James Otteson, and Fred Hjelmeland, directed the work which was done by a local contractor. It was now possible to seat an additional 50 people. The committee also had the responsibility for directing numerous other improvements under way in the church. The newly installed heating plant now replaced the stove which heretofore heated the building. In May 1944, the chancel of the church was remodeled and furnished with a new altar, pulpit and lectern built by Jens Otteson. Odny Reckling wrote: “This early church was warm and beautiful in its simplicity – with its white altar, pulpit and lectern.”
As told by Margaret Sneesby “My father had just passed away. After that, my mother started into the Women’s Aid. I joined that fall. It was a small, close knit family. And of course, a lot of the men were not working. They had time to putter around the church. They did an awfully lot of work to bring it back, restore it back to order, after it was rebuilt. They had to dig out under the basement when the church membership started to grow. They dug all by hand, under that building. The only access was under the steps going up to the church. They built walls down below, and took wheel barrels back and forth under the steps, and dug out the whole basement by hand. Its mind boggling. It took them years. Of course they needed money to work with. It was hard times. During the winter, they kept themselves warm with the pot belly stove. The original entrance was on Garden Place. Right inside the door was like a vestibule. And next to it was a big pot belly stove. And someone in the neighborhood would come and fire it up, and warm it up for services. They also had to maintain it so that water would not freeze. It was tough times, but it was fun times too.”
The Adeste Fidelis presented a play at church on March 5, 1943 called “His Woman Folks” directed by Mrs. Corliss Johnson. As advertised: “The play itself is an unusually fine comedy and from all reports the girls have done a fine job in bringing all that the play presents to the foreground. In these days of unrest and hurry, the girls offer us all a chance to relax, to laugh, and to sit back and enjoy seeing those we know so well cast in the role of characters we will long remember. In keeping with the policy in St. Paul’s, there are no tickets being sold; but a free-will offering will be received for a very important addition to our church. The proceeds from the play will be used to purchase a much needed Baptismal font for our chancel. With this gift to the church in mind, the girls have spent many hours in preparation for the play which they hope will so meet with your approval that you will want to give freely. Let us all bring others with us that a goodly number might be present on Friday to play a part in placing a truly beautiful Font in our chancel.” The font cost $50.64.