To the naked eye, it doesn't look like much progress has been made at Historic Trinity Lutheran Church since a fire nearly destroyed it last year. However, things are moving forward quickly as they install the final trusses for a new roof on the classic Milwaukee landmark.
"For the building, it's really an important part of getting a sound structure to make the roof solid again," Christine Behnke, director of parish education at Historic Trinity said. "For the congregation, each one of these times is exciting for all of us to think we are making this much progress in just over a year."
Thursday, crews installed four new steel trusses along the eastern part of the building. The building will maintain its cross shape as it always has, however, the roof will be like nothing the church has ever seen.
"With the steel we have now, it's going to last longer than the building itself," Bill Katravas, project manager with Ace Iron and Steel said. "The craftsmanship in the wood was really something to see. It was a treat. We were able to capture some photos and see the intricacy that went into that. It's kind of amazing that would actually hold up."
The wood beams holding up the old roof were original, circa the 19th century. While steel is much stronger and more durable, they also can't make a roof like they used to.
"Before, it was made from virgin wood beams," Behnke said. "You wouldn't find wood big enough to do this type of roof anymore. The trees just don't exist."
However, don't expect some type of space-age roof. While the structural stability will be top of the line, the aesthetics will remain the same as it always has been. Behnke says they'll use a similar slate roof so the church looks just like it did before last May's fire.
"It's the history of it," Behnke said. "If we didn't want to remake it, we could have just taken the whole building down and put up something else. We didn't want that. We wanted Historic Trinity back as much as possible."
Behnke says with this next step, they'll be able to really get to work on the inside, restoring it to what it once was.
It's going to be so exciting," he said. "We know the alter is in pretty good shape, even though there was water damage. It hasn't been moved. It's going to be able to stay there. Parts of the pulpit are still looking good. We'll be able to continue and maybe by the fall, start looking to do things inside."
Historic Trinity Lutheran Church is aiming to reopen its doors in 2022.