An historic church in downtown Mansfield appeared destined for the wrecking ball a year ago.
The 1940s era building had a steel cable holding up the western wall. All the electrical wiring was bad and many of the wood floors and beams were rotted.
One home builder had plans to buy the land at the southwest corner of West Oak Street and North First Street, replacing the old Methodist Church with new homes.
Instead, Cedar Hill’s Church on the Hill bought it with plans to restore and remodel the 10,700-square-foot facility into a modern non-denominational church.
They could have bought vacant land to build a new church but that’s just not their style — the Cedar Hill location is in an old Food Lion grocery store.
“For us, we kept feeling like the Lord spoke to us to redeem that which was old and decrepit,” said Lead Pastor Adam McCain. “We just felt like it was better for the community for us to restore something.”
After a year of hard work, escalating costs and construction delays, Church on the Hill will have a grand opening for its Mansfield expansion campus Sunday with services at 9 a.m. and 10:45 a.m. at 107 N. First Ave.
The constant pitfalls of restoring a 70-year-old sanctuary and the additions, which date to the 1950s or 1960s, made the project a challenge. The church bought the land in June and had hoped to move in by October. McCain recalls one city code enforcement inspector had doubts about the project.
“This is the coolest thing for us as a church. He said, ‘When ya’ll started into this, I just knew you were going to abandon the project.’ When he came back for the final inspection, he said, ‘You guys resurrected that building,”’ McCain said.
Walking into the sanctuary now, it’s unrecognizable from the old Methodist church. The wood pews are gone, though they salvaged a few for decoration. The steel cable that used to hold up the western wall is gone.
“We had a wall leaning out a foot held together by a cable,” McCain said. “We literally had to lift the roof and resupport the entire ceiling.”
The stage was flipped so it’s on the south end of the sanctuary, where the old main entrance used to be. There’s a modern video board, drum wall and all the latest sound and lighting equipment needed for a non-denominational worship service.
While many aspects were modernized, Church on the Hill went to great lengths to retain the old yellow and blue stained glass windows, though they will use plexiglass to protect it in the children’s areas.
The church replaced all the electrical wiring, adding several thousand dollars to the cost. The flooring and much of the pier and beam foundation had to be redone. Then, the asbestos had to be removed. And they realized they didn’t have enough parking so they had to build a new parking lot on the south side.
“That was a $100,000 expenditure that we hadn’t planned on,” McCain said.
Jonathan Pena will be the campus pastor for Mansfield along with his wife, Mirna Pena. He showed off the building’s coffee/gathering area, the children’s classrooms, divided by age group, and the hallway where they knocked down some of the walls in place of windows to let in natural light.
The northern section of the building used to be the Living Word Outreach mission center, which provided clothes, food and other needs in the community.
“We literally changed the entire functionality of this building,” Pena said.
The sanctuary is big enough to hold 200 people comfortably.