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Vandalized Basement in Historic Church Will Be Rededicated

October 03, 1998|CHRISTINE CASTRO

After 10 months and $37,000 in restoration work, a historic Fullerton church basement damaged by vandalism will be rededicated Sunday.

The 89-year-old Gothic-style Church of Religious Science on Pomona Avenue--the oldest in Fullerton--was water-damaged in December. Someone threaded a hose under a metal security door, down the fire stairs and into the basement social hall before turning on the water.

The church's insurance covered the $14,000 to replace the basement's ruined carpets, walls and furniture. The $23,000 in renovation came from fund-raising and donations.

The congregation and community donated $35 more than the desired budget.

"We've been blessed all the way," said the Rev. Annette Drake, pastor at the church.

Now, rose-colored carpeted steps lead down to a bright and airy community center. French doors open into a library with high ceilings and crown molding.

It feels and looks like home again.

Officials designated the red-brick church as a city historic landmark in 1996. The 200-member congregation has worshiped in the church since 1967, when members bought the building from a Methodist congregation.

The vandalism left three inches of water and damaged some of the renovations made to the building after the 1987 Whittier earthquake. The congregation continued to use the space, despite its poor condition, for storage, meetings and even wedding receptions.

"It was just a real mess," said Harvey Beery, chairman of the renovation committee.

The rededication is scheduled after Sunday services.

"This was an absolute demonstration in how you can take a bad situation and bring the best out of it," Drake said.

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