Editor's note: This piece has been updated and corrected. The Museum of Idaho has worked with Trinity United Methodist Church but did not donate to the renovations.

The historic Trinity United Methodist Church will remain open while undergoing its most ambitious renovations and construction project in decades.

The $656,000 renovation project will replace the bathrooms and expand the upstairs kitchen as well as repair issues with the roof and the basement. To help pay for the extensive project, Trinity United Methodist Church received $190,000 in grants from the National Fund for Sacred Places and the Idaho Heritage Trust. The rest of the funding came from local charitable funds and donations from the church's 270-member congregation.

"We want to do this work to meet the needs of the 21st century," Reverend Ruth Marsh said.

Trinity United Methodist Church was first established at its current address in 1895 and the current building was dedicated in 1917. In 1979, the church was added to the National Register of Historic Places. The last major construction project at the Methodist church began in 1949, when a new wing was created to house the increasing number of visitors and their young children.

"Someone 100 years ago had the idea to build this church. Now we're doing our part to make sure people can keep using it," said Don Rohde, the trustee who is overseeing much of the construction work.

Repairing water damage throughout the building is the most urgent of the construction projects. Decades of rain have caused leaks in the roof above the sanctuary and loosened much of the mortar supporting the stonework. More recently, water from underground has begun cracking the plaster surrounding three cement pillars in the main room of the basement. The water has not caused any structural damage to the columns but church officials still plan to update and reinforce them during this project.

From the outside, the church will look largely the same once the renovations are completed. The only major change on the outside of the building is the relocation of the basement fire escape caused by the expansion of the basement bathrooms, which is one of the biggest changes coming from the renovation.

All four bathrooms in the church are being expanded and improved, going in total from five stalls to eight and with new stalls able to accommodate disabled visitors. Showers will be added downstairs for visitors and homeless residents to use and the upstairs women's room will connect directly to the church's child care room. With every toilet in the church currently under construction, Trinity has had to bring in port-a-potties for the next few months.

"It's been really inconvenient because we only have two outhouses right now, but it's usable," church trustee Nancy Stewart said.

Upstairs construction also will include creating an expanded kitchen with food warmers and counters to cook for small events at the church. Trinity also has a kitchen in the basement, which will continue to serve large groups and events. Construction also will relocate some of the offices for church staff and replace much of the flooring in the new areas.

The church is continuing to offer Sunday services and host meetings for Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous and Girl Scouts Troop 112 during the renovations. The only groups that have moved out of the church during construction are the Regional Council for Christian Ministry, whose office is under construction in the basement, and Boy Scout Troop 6.

Contact Brennen with news tips at 208-542-6711.

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