First United Methodist Church – Hurricane Sally – Pensacola, FL – September 16th, 2020

By John Minor, CGC, CFM | President at Complete General Contractors, Inc.

Complete was proud to serve as cost experts on this historic church in Pensacola following Hurricane Sally. It was full-circle experience for me as I had been involved in the restoration of this property after Hurricane Opal hit my hometown of Pensacola in 1995. This beautiful and important church was founded over 200 years ago in 1821 and at this site since 1908. This complex has grown in importance and size for the City, the Congregation, and the Church for the last 100-plus years. Hurricane Sally was a significant and surprising storm that made landfall near the state line between Florida and Alabama just 25 miles to the west of FUMC with 125 mph winds and a long-duration landfall. This storm wreaked havoc to the community I love and serve and the damage to the church was typical of many of our important buildings.

The campus has a number of different and totally unique buildings:

Main Sanctuary

The main sanctuary that was clad with a Virginia slate roof and then replaced with standing seam metal by the well-known and respected roofers at Bel Mac Roofing led by the expert large-scale general contractors at Morrette Company. The walls of the sanctuary are stone and the building is a study in grace and church architecture. We worked every inch of the structure including the bell towers, the wood and steel reinforced roof framing, as well as the organ which is a literal work of art. 

Main Sanctuary Overview – Photo by Complete
100+ Year Old Stained Glass Damaged by Sally – Photo by Complete

Our study included aerial inspection by our drone team, careful study of the weather by Dan Minor, Lt Retired, our in-house meteorologist, and then detailed moisture mapping by our thermal imaging diagnosticians. We worked on this very steep, very high roof maintaining our safety but making sure we got our details. The historic stained-glass windows in the property were a major concern as we worked with the experts to help us to value the damages and the needed repairs.

Scottish Rite

The Scottish Rite building adjacent to the sanctuary also was damaged by the storm and this was also a unique and beautiful structure. It was known as a place where citizens of the city could spot the high masted sailing ships returning to the city of Pensacola after their time at sea. The windows in the Scottish rite building continue to be owned by the Rite with an agreement for their use. This is a center for community involvement and the space is rented to groups often.

Aerial Overview of FUMC – FAA 107 Aerial Photo by Complete
Other Buildings
Signage at FUMC – CGC Photo

The remainder of the buildings ranged from classrooms to gymnasiums, and we inspected all of these properties, established the damages, and documented same with our thermal imaging cameras, moisture meters, and careful attention.

Complete was proud to serve First United Methodist to establish the fair and reasonable repairs and costs associated with this complex restoration. We were pleased to have the support and the time of the clergy, and they remain available to share with any interested party the difference that Complete makes.