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Take a pew -- and own a piece of Rossland’s history

Pews for sale! Submitted photo.

St Andrew’s United Church in Rossland is selling dozens of its pews from the 1950s ahead of its $344,000 renovation project.

The landmark heritage building at the corner of Queen Street and 1st Avenue in Rossland hasn’t  been solely a place of worship since Seven Summits Centre for Learning (7S) moved in seven years ago and repurposed it as a place of learning.  Its high school student cohort has been animating it with life, laughter, song, drama and future-proofed learning practices ever since.

Leaders at 7S have also been facilitating the building’s transition into a social hub and lifeline by managing its rental spaces when its congregation and students aren’t gathering.  In a series of recent ‘firsts’ it has been host to Blizzardfest music events, and volunteers from the Community Kitchen project have commandeered its commercial kitchen to tackle local food needs amidst COVID-19 restrictions.  

The innovative educator has also become the first in line to reserve a pair of church pews in order to retain a little piece of local history within its walls.  The remainder will soon be for sale to the general public.

St. Andrews congregants think the pews came from Ontario circa 1954 and marked the completion of the last major renovation. They will make way for more flexible seating in the form of stackable chairs which can be rearranged for concerts, community events and 7S student classes.

“We’re proud of our local history and we’re glad to be able to offer our remaining church pews to people who will cherish them. The sale marks the first step towards the creation of a contemporary multi-use space that can be enjoyed by the whole of Rossland as well as 7S students and the church,” says Brenda Hooper, the Chair of the Project Management Committee for the building. 

Once the removal of the pews has been completed within the main portion of the church, known as the sanctuary, its raked floor will be leveled and its wooden foundations upgraded as part of a  $344,000 restoration project funded by the Built Heritage Grant program of the Columbia Basin Trust.  The building’s heritage features, storage and washrooms will also be improved as part of the works, which include classroom expansion for Seven Summits Centre for Learning.

A third of the 80 oak and oak veneer pews have already been spoken for by local residents, cafes, organizations and businesses.  Project chiefs say the plain-looking pews lend themselves well to being upcycled and used as furniture in the garden or home. However, people who want two pew ends – a full 15-foot-long pew -- will need to buy two of the 7.5 foot spans which will be sold individually at $50 each.

The pews are being reserved on a ‘first come, first served’ basis to anyone who is prepared to unscrew, move and transport their little piece of Rossland history to give it a new lease of life.  Anyone interested is asked to e-mail  Brenda.hooper@ubc.ca,  with the number of 7.5 foot units required. If a purchaser wants just one 7.5 foot unit, instead of a full-length pew, they will need to state whether a single Right Hand Side or Left Hand Side end is required.   

Organizers will set staggered collection times which adhere to social distancing measures once the start dates for construction have been confirmed.  Details for collection times and e-transfer payments will be communicated directly to the successful bidders.