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Parish History Notes 14: The Rube Goldberg Repairs

Reuben Lucias Goldberg, inventor and artist of the 20th century, would not appreciate being identified with the 18th century improvisations that supported the Fork Church floor for well over a century. Some of our repairs could be considered outlandish enough, but they were less practical and far less clever than Rube’s “inventions.”

The original construction of Fork Church included two parallel brick foundations that extended on both sides of the aisle and then all the way to the east side under the altar. These walls supported sills that held the joists on which the floor rested. At some point sections of these foundation walls were removed, and it appears that the same bricks were used to raise the level of the floor by adding two more brick courses to the remaining parts of the walls. More bricks were used to make piers to raise the sills along the outside walls. These piers were crudely stacked and provided irregular support, and when they were finally replaced in 1997, there was evidence of several subsequent efforts to adjust and reinforce them. 

The reason for these changes to the interior foundation is unclear, and there is no available evidence to determine a date for the alterations and repairs. All we can say is the quality of the work implies a time during the “lean years,” when the church had little able help and few resources to make what must have been necessary structural adjustments. The pews were held up by faith, and little else.