A New Level: The Church of Breckenridge completes a major renovation project

St. John the Baptist Episcopal Church is pictured on July 10, 2022. Earlier this year, church leadership completed the process of expanding the lowest level of the building to accommodate community meals and other events.
Eliza Noe/Summit Daily News

For over 20 years, St. John the Baptist Episcopal Church has been serving weekly meals for the congregation, and with their new meeting place – a basement level of the church where congregational meetings will be held – congregational meals are back in full swing.

At the June 28 launch, more than 400 people received meals from the Church and local restaurant partners. The prelude celebrated the year-long process of expanding the church’s lowest level.

Rev. Charles Brumbaugh, rector of St. John the Baptist Episcopal Church, said talks about modernizing the current facilities began several years ago. Over time, the project evolved from minor improvements to the annex, which was completed that year.

“At our annual parish meeting in January 2017, the idea first came up that our little yellow church with the red doors needed a little sprucing up — you know, new carpet here, a little fresh paint there,” Brumbaugh said. “After a civil engineer realized that our foundation was in deep trouble, the scope of the project expanded tenfold. In short, we had to lift our beautiful, historic church off the ground and pour a concrete foundation under the entire facility.”

St. John’s leadership had the development agreement application approved by the Breckenridge City Council in September 2019, but the development agreement was not formally approved until March 2020 due to changes and the need for approval by the Colorado Episcopal Diocese. The church then submitted the project to the City Planning Commission in May 2020 and received the green light.

On March 11, 2020, St. John’s congregation met for the last time before the pandemic, and Brumbaugh said restoration and renovation of the church began shortly thereafter. Meanwhile, most services and Bible studies were conducted virtually on Zoom, and church members met occasionally at Father Dyer United Methodist Church.

Pictured is the original dedication of St. John the Baptist Episcopal Church in 1892. Since then the church has undergone modernization including the addition of a parish hall in 1986 and a lower level extension completed in 2022.
St. John the Baptist Episcopal Church/Photo courtesy

Stu Read, chair of the church’s renovation committee, said that since the church could not be expanded, foundation problems presented an opportunity to rebuild instead. He said the most difficult part of the multi-year project was the excavation underneath the building.

“It was an amazing endeavor because we didn’t know what we were getting into or what we were going to find,” said Read. “Maybe you’ll find a huge boulder down there that we’d have to blast or whatever – which of course increases the cost of the project and so on.”

Read said the project cost over $3 million.

A rendering shows how the church will look after construction.
Stais Architecture & Interiors/Courtesy

More than two years after the last in-person service, St. John’s held its first church service on Palm Sunday this April. Read said the renovation committee had been dissolved as of last week and that the project could not be completed without the many subcommittees and dedicated church members who have donated time and pledged funds to the project.

“There were four of us on the renovation committee, and that first meeting was in January 2019, so we’ve been meeting at least every other Friday since then,” Read said. “We are very pleased to have completed the project. We definitely think it was a labor of love and we are blessed to have been chosen to do it. It is certainly wonderful to have the project behind it and now turning it over to the Sacristy to move forward with our new church.”

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