Scope of Work
Full architectural services
Restoring the exterior masonry of the church.
The Centenary United Methodist Church was built in 1929.
Designed by Dougher, Rich and Woodburn Architects
Phase 1 is complete.
Phase 2 is currently active.
Our team faced numerous distinctive difficulties at the Centenary United Methodist Church in Beatrice, Nebraska. The degradation of the tower and specifically at the southwest spire was a particular concern and one of the most critical issues to be resolved. Repairs made after the lightning strike in the early 1990s were insufficient to stop the significant movement that followed. The tower as it stood prior to any recent renovation has portions that are misaligned, shifted and in some areas even dislodged. Displaced stones jeopardize the structural integrity of the spire.
Both churchgoers and the lower levels of the building are clearly in danger from the possibility of falling components. Many tiny finals and crockets are among those broken pieces. To prevent further falling pieces, the disassembly of the southwest spire occurred under the observation of qualified professionals to determine which stones needed to be replaced and to recommend measures for restoring the existing masonry.
The upper portion of the spire had rotated significantly off-axis. The joint had been filled with caulking rather than mortar.
Each corner of the spire is meant to hold two small pinnacles, though many of them have fallen off.
Pinnacles and crockets had fallen off nearly every portion of the upper tower.
Some portions of the joint were completely empty.
Some missing portions of the stone pinnacles had been replaced with brick.
Some pinnacles had apparently been reassembled and held together with wire.
Serious stone deterioration at the base of an interior corner.
Stone spalling at the base of a buttress.
A significant structural problem was also presented at the west gable wall where the choir sits. On either side, there is a symmetrical breaking in the stones causing misalignment due to an outward displacement. Again, a qualified professional was brought in for evaluation and correction of an issue with the initial structural design.
Some parts of the façade in other areas have less critical issues again with difficulties in resolution. In contrast to how the stone naturally evolved, many of the stones at the building corners were laid with their sediment layers oriented vertically and therefore show signs of delamination. Some stones were experiencing severe surface erosion and spalling to the point where surfaces had retreated past the mortar’s edge. Warm, wet sections of the building that are shielded from sunshine support the growth of black lichen. When lichen dries and is swept away by rain, the lichen areas leave black lines on the stones below. In mortar joint gaps that require re-pointing, the type of mortar will be changed replacing a cool-gray mortar as applied with a warm-gray mortal like the original mortar type.
Berggren Architects provided the Centenary United Methodist Church with a comprehensive report which included six major tasks to under take in order of priority.
While some of the tower repairs can be made in situ, other sections, including the entire southwest spire, must be taken down, disassembled, and the stone pieces reset. Disassembling the spire provides a valuable opportunity to investigate potential design flaws within all four spires.
Traditional Dutchman patches will be used where possible for areas of missing stone. The small corner pinnacles will be redesigned to be re-pinned n the method recommended by the stone fabricator. They will also be pinned further from the edge, lessening the potential for fracture and falling incidents.
We have identified the structural deficiency of the gable wall to be the internal steel structure. The ends of the gable are supported by two columns which were designed without sufficient lateral support for their height.
Wherever visible, areas of missing stone will be replaced using a Dutchman patch, while areas of damaged stone will be repaired with stone epoxy. For small holes, fractures in still-solid stone, and delamination in remote locations, lime putty will be used. Areas of slick, dark-gray mortar will be re-pointed with mortar matching the original. The lichen, identified as a purely cosmetic issue, may be removed with a chemical cleaner. The reconstruction of the front steps and completion of the storm sewer will occur around this phase.
Other restoration tasks include improving the wood fascia behind the gutters and repairing the deteriorating interior plaster walls.
The observatory restoration project was completed in 1995. It was immediately opened to the public with a successful ribbon cutting ceremony. The time-keeping ball, now inside on its mount, was one of less than eight time balls dropped at midnight of New Year's Eve, 1999. The telescope remains operational to this day and is regularly used for sky-viewing, including to view the lunar eclipse of May 2022.
Janet Jeffries, our architectural historian and faculty member of Doane University, is responsible for managing public events and tour at the observatory.
A Pennock 8-inch equatorial refractor telescope sits within the scope room.The wood lattice dome structure and sheet metal cover were faithfully restored.
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What We Offer
We offer restoration and preservation of your historic structures. Using extraordinary materials and craftsmanship, our historic structures are a lasting tribute to the people for whom they were built.
We offer consulting services to both general clients and professional clients in sharing our knowledge and expertise in the area of historic preservation. Our master planning and preservation planning prepares our clients to be better able to plan for the life of their historic structures and districts.
We know the meaning of sustainability because of our in-depth work with structures which have stood the test of time. We offer sustainable and green new construction which is historically sympathetic, including in the form of additions.
Jerry L. Berggren, AIA
In 1977, Jerry Berggren founded what would become Berggren Architects, P.C. The firm began as a sole proprietorship in Lincoln, Nebraska and has since then been dedicated to the preservation of Nebraska’s finest architecture. The 1983 Jobs Bill was the milestone which introduced the firm to its most significant building type, the historic county courthouse. A project to improve the thermal efficiency of the windows at the Johnson County Courthouse in Tecumseh also initiated Berggren’s concern for energy conservation and an ongoing commitment to sustainable design.
In 1986, Jerry’s “Courthouse Trail” proposal to the state was approved. The Courthouse Trail experience solidified two career-long relationships with the Nebraska Energy Office and the Nebraska Association of County Officials. He continued to serve Nebraska’s county clients and in 2002 he became the recipient of the Honors Award from the National Trust for Historic Preservation. This achievement was Berggren’s first nationally recognized award.
Today, Jerry Berggren has expanded his firm and employs professionals with abilities in historic preservation, architecture, interior design, sustainability, master planning and more. The future will undoubtedly hold more unexpected opportunities and challenges. He looks forward to each of those and you are invited to contact him directly regarding the architectural challenges you face.
Garry has been working in the architectural field continuously since obtaining a master’s degree in architecture from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1991. He had previously worked with Jerry Berggren as an intern in 1989 and the experience piqued his interest in the field of preservation. Garry leads the production team at Berggren Architects, P.C.
Farheen, a citizen of India, began her career with formal education in that country achieving the status of architect. When her husband was transferred to the U.S., she seized the opportunity to study at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln graduating in 2019 with her Master of Architecture. She immediately became one of our full time employees continuing to work until her student visa expired in July of 2020. Having to return to India, we thought we had lost a valued employee. Thanks to COVID, we have had to learn to work remotely. Farheen, now living in Canada, has once again joined us. This time as a contract employee and we are very grateful to have her back.
Janet has a career history as an educator, writer, and researcher in the field of historical and architectural preservation. She currently works as the College Historian for Doane College in Crete, NE and is the Curator for the Crete Heritage Society. Janet is currently employed as the firm’s Architectural/Preservation Historian.
Brandy Nguyen joined Berggren Architects. in April of 2020. As an architectural student, Brandy was recruited in 2020 to become the next Larsen Legacy intern. During this year of his internship, he is taking charge of the firm’s outward appearance. Website development and polishing the proposal we submit are among his responsibilities. He is also becoming a significant help with the production of construction documents.
Alexi joined Berggren Architects in 2021. In her first year as a Larsen Legacy intern, her responsibilities began with coordinating office operations and research. Her current responsibilities include marketing and preparation of construction documents and design.
Kameron joined Berggren Architects in September of 2022 as a Media Production Intern. Responsibilities include creating digital videos for the company, filming footage on site of current projects, website development as well as creating and updating existing content and project information.
Leroy Svatora, AIA
Leroy has been continuously involved in the practice of Architecture since receiving his Master’s Degree in Architecture from University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1977. He began working part-time in an architectural office prior to graduation and worked briefly with Jerry in the 1980’s. After leaving Jerry’s office, he became licensed in the State of Nebraska, and worked for other firms in Lincoln on a variety of project types and scales. Since then, he has returned to assist Berggren Architects once more.
Berggren Architects welcomed Maegan in 2022. Her duties as a Larsen Legacy assistant started out with organizing the offices’ activities and conducting research. Her current duties include overseeing QuickBooks, setting up and maintaining workplace supplies, and serves as our office’s front-facing representative.