SANTA MONICA : Steeple Chase Ends as Quake Repairs Begin

More than a year after the Northridge earthquake knocked the cross off the steeple and caused about $200,000 in damage to Calvary Baptist Church, repairs are finally under way at the sanctuary and school at 20th Street and Broadway in Santa Monica.

"It took all this time to review all the (construction) contracts and then make a decision," said Pierce Watson, a 30-year member of the church who sits on the church's earthquake repair committee. "Our best estimate is that it will be finished in a couple of weeks."

The church sustained cracks. The cross that topped the steeple dropped down about three feet inside the steeple, leaving an open space in the metal cone. Rain has been leaking through the hole, causing minor damage to seating in the balcony.

But on Wednesday, the steeple was restored when a huge crane hoisted the cross and its steel support back into place. Workers wrapped the steeple's point in metal sheeting and fashioned a collar at the base of the cross to divert rainwater.

Cracks along the building's exterior and interior have been stuccoed and plastered and painted in Navajo white. Windowpanes in the church educational center have also been replaced.

Although one of the eight stained-glass windows that adorn the church's interior was cracked, Watson said there will be no attempt at repairing it since it appears to be a minor fissure.

The church did not qualify for Federal Emergency Management Agency funds because of its nonprofit status. But it managed to secure a $140,000 Small Business Administration loan, said John Forbes, chairman of the church's board of directors. "We are still applying for more," he said.

The 75-year-old church, which was formerly located at Delaware Avenue and 20th Street, moved to its current location more than 40 years ago. Services were not disrupted by the earthquake damage.

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