HAMMOND | The prospect of restoring Gary’s once majestic downtown City Methodist Church after nearly four decades of neglect may seem highly unlikely.
But if it does happen, a Purdue University Calumet construction sciences graduate has done the initial heavy lifting, so to speak, in preparation.
Merrillville resident and New Lenox, Ill. native Brianne Slick graduated this spring from PUC’s construction management and engineering technology program. One of her final assignments was to complete an extensive design project, required of all seniors, that enabled her to apply lessons she has learned as a prospective construction project manager.
Her senior project provided restoration plans for the sanctuary within the multi-faceted, 1925-circa City Methodist Church, once considered among the most magnificent in Indiana.
Changing times, however, led to the church’s demise, closing and ultimate abandonment in 1975.
When a Gary faith-based community advocate sought to find out what it would take to restore the church, PUC Chancellor Thomas Keon contacted the head of the Department of Construction Sciences and Organizational Leadership, Professor Anthony Gregory.
“I put it out there as a possible senior project, and Brianne stepped forward,” Gregory said. “She researched the church’s history and did a proposal last fall focusing on the sanctuary portion only. Then she did an analysis to determine whether or not the sanctuary could be made usable and if so, what the rehabbing would cost.”
For the ambitious, 25-year-old dean’s list student, the project got off to a challenging start.
“I couldn’t find any architectural plans for the church, so I had to do my own measurements,” she said. “Professor Gregory helped with the perimeter measures, and I did the interior myself.
“I had to decide what needed demolishing and what could be replaced,” she said. “Then I did a quantity take-off to determine material needs. I also used the RSMeans software program, which provides material and labor costs based on geographic location.”
Though admitting the project at times was frustrating and overwhelming, “I fell in love with the (the building) right away,” she said. “The sheer beauty of the architecture and that it brought so many people together appealed to me.”
Slick has started her professional career as an estimator with an electrical contractor in Denver, Colo.
“Brianne is one of those students with a critical mind who makes a professor better,” Associate Professor of Civil Engineering Technology Jose Pena said. "I wish we had more students with her discipline, drive and, above all, capacity for analyzing, asking questions and looking beyond the surface of things.”
Reflecting on her PUC years, she said, “I can honestly say this has been one of the best decisions of my life. Being a woman in construction is not only a challenge, but it is also a reward knowing that I can do anything I put my heart into. . .”