May 14, 2021
March 19, 2020 - Arminco Inc.
Constructs Unique Home for Debre Hail Kidus Raguel Church in Sterling
Arminco, Inc. specializes in design-build for dental, Medical and Veterinary, having completed over 800 projects. Arminco, Inc. is built on trust. Many referrals come to us from commercial and non-profit clients trusting in our services. Our latest project was to renovate a historic Civil-War-era Baptist church located in Sterling, Virginia and completely rebuild the structure for the Debre Hail Kidus Raguel Church congregation, bringing a unique “slice of Ethiopia” (and a permanent home) to its 380+ members.
According to Emnet Amenshowa, a lay-leader at the church, the structure was initially constructed as Guilford Baptist Church during the time of the Civil War. The land was originally purchased from a Loudoun County farmer for $20, and the Baptist church was built in 1874. The original Baptist congregation met in the building for over a century and then sold the land and building to Debre Hail Kidus parishioners in 2014. However, the building was ancient, space was limited and the aesthetic did not fit the congregation or its growing numbers of new members. The building needed a complete overhaul – and Arminco, Inc. was the right partner for the project!
According to Amenshowa, selecting Arminco was a natural choice because of their presence in and familiarity with Loudoun County and its complex building and permitting processes. Adding to the “comfortability factor” was Vahagn Danielyan, Arminco’s Director of Construction, and Sasha Hewadpal, Arminco’s Senior Consultant and project manager. They, along with Arminco president, Artin Safarian formed a strong management team that “was like family to us,” Amenshowa said and worked closely with church leaders to manage every step of the design, demolition and construction processes.
The project began in November of 2018. Because of the historic nature of the original church building and its surrounding land, groundbreaking had to be handled very carefully. Hewadpal noted that several historical experts from Loudoun County were present during groundbreaking to inspect any possible artifacts that might be found (Sadly, none were.) Additionally, numerous meetings with the county were required, which slowed down the building process considerably. Yet the Arminco team remained patient and proactive with county officials, which truly impressed their counterparts at the church.
The scope of the project included a remodel of the old church building and construction of a new sanctuary and full basement space, which is connected internally to the historic side of the building. According to Hewadpal, the historic side received a “face-lift” which included new paint, flooring, and fixtures. A few walls were also moved to make way for new offices and classrooms. On the newly constructed side of the building, Arminco expanded the footprint of the sanctuary from 18 feet to 42 feet and also installed a new entrance to the church with a handicap ramp. This side of the structure features new priestly quarters and a full- basement that includes meeting rooms, a large set of restrooms, a kitchen and an eating space where the congregation can gather for meals.
The Arminco team worked hand-in-hand with church leaders to construct a new structure that “captured the architectural spirit” of the great Orthodox churches of Ethiopia, yet retained some historic elements of the original building. Architectural highlights from the new space include golden domes; an exquisite crystal chandelier from Ethiopia which hangs prominently in the sanctuary, and a newly-constructed belfry that holds the original, restored bell from Guildford Baptist Church when it was constructed in 1874.
On January 10, 2020, close to 400 congregants from Debre Hail Kidus Raguel Church came together to celebrate their newly-completed worship space with great pomp and circumstance. Art, Sasha, Vahagn, and many others from the Arminco team joined the festivities and were awarded a special plaque from the bishop recognizing their hard work and dedication to the construction of their new church home.
Overall, the congregation is “more than 100 percent happy” with their new space, Amenshowa said. “When they enter, everyone feels like they are back home in Ethiopia. Even strangers pass our beautiful building and ask to come in see it,” he said. Given its distinct status as one of the oldest churches still standing in the county, Debre Hail Kidus is the now also the first Ethiopian Orthodox Church (built in the traditional Orthodox style) to stand in Loudoun County, Virginia. The project was completed on-budget and on-time, which is quite noteworthy, given the historic nature of this special property.
Pictures Source: dhkidusraguel.org
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