City completes restoration efforts at historic Rainier Church

By Daniel Warn / [email protected]

The Rainier Historical Zion Church recently received the finishing touches of a decade-long restoration effort the Town of Rainier has undertaken on the site.

The building, located at 209, rue Olympia, received its coveted exterior lighting two weeks ago, as well as interior surveillance cameras. Rose gardens were also planted this summer.

The roses were purchased by the city for $ 400 and were planted by the Rainier Historical Society, while the city paid a total of $ 1,900 for lighting and safety measures.

“There are the lights coming down from the walkway and the lights… shining in the building,” Rainier Mayor Bob Shaw said.

He added that there were a few lights on the Minnesota Street side of the building, some at the back of the church and some at the front, which can be seen from Olympia Street.

“It lights up really well,” Shaw said. “And then those candles in the windows and the outside lights – it looks like an old-fashioned church. That was everyone’s goal.

He said the positive responses from people who come from under the Minnesota Street trestles to view the church have validated the city’s restoration efforts. Even in the past two weeks since the lights were installed, feedback from people walking the streets has been overwhelmingly positive, he said.

“We hear a lot of comments,” Shaw said. “Lots of positive comments. Although it hasn’t been praised and used much, it is much more than that that makes me, the board, and the community members happy.

People can rent the venue for $ 500 from the city, after receiving a rental form from Rainier City Hall.

“The important thing is that we celebrated our first wedding here on Saturday night,” Shaw told the Nisqually Valley News on Monday, Oct. 25 from inside the church. “We were supposed to have a wedding earlier this year in the summer, but they had to cancel due to COVID. “

The city is in the process of setting up paved parking for the newly renamed Tenino-Rainier-Yelm Trail, formerly Yelm-Tenino Trail, at the corner of Minnesota and Rochester Streets. Church users can park there.

The church is white, with the city’s website indicating that the building has an “engaged square tower that includes a gabled vestibule topped by a hipped-roof belfry crowned with a spire and cross.”

Former Rainier City administrator Charmayne Garrison told the Nisqually Valley News in 2018 that restoration began in 2010, when the Port of Olympia awarded a grant to the city to update the building’s electrical system and complete some work on his furnace.

Imagined by Garrison, the restaurant industry has seen a slow, sometimes not so steady pace over the years, with the last few years having seen the most progress.

The port also awarded a grant of $ 10,000 in 2018, which enabled the city to install water pipes and a septic tank for the church.

Prior to this date, the venue had been used for weddings, but events were hampered by the lack of running water.

The city completed the septic system as well as a new bathroom in 2019, followed by an effort to install new siding and insulated double-glazed windows the same year. A work crew also repainted the exterior of the church later this year.

In 2020, the city has been working on the interior of the building, ensuring that the new paint, carpet, renovated floors, repaired benches and other updates to the electrical system are completed in the place with some interior decorations in addition.

Also in 2020, the existing lawn was removed and a new one was hydro-seeded. A sprinkler system and a white picket fence surrounding the 0.24 acre lot were also installed.

Prior to this year, the city had spent $ 80,000 on the renovation and landscaping of the church – this amount being fully realized in part through donations from the Port of Olympia, of which $ 5,000 was from a grant from the Thurston County heritage administered by the Thurston County Historical Commission.

The church was built in 1896 by brothers Albert, Theodore and Paul Gehrke. the The structure was used as a second school in Rainier while it also functioned as a church.

Zion’s historic Rainier Church was added to the Washington State Heritage Register in 2007. It was Rainier’s first building to receive the honor.

The city acquired the site in 1995 for $ 3,500.

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