The Vernon Historical Society is on a mission to bring Hard Labor Church back to its former glory after time and Hurricane Michael have taken a toll on the historical structure.
The Washington Primitive Baptist Church, known as Hard Labor Church, is a 90-year-old heart-pine church built in 1931 on the original land where the old cemetery is located. In 1951, the building was moved to the opposite side of the road where it stands today.
In October 2018, Hurricane Michaels 150 mph winds rattled the building and the roof took a direct hit from at least two large pine trees. Volunteers removed the trees and repaired the tin roof. However, closer examination revealed structural damage needing repairs to ensure the churchs stability. The impact of the trees caused the building to shift with the back wall and both the east and west walls realigned outward.
The damage was much more extensive than originally thought. Not only was the alignment of the building affected, but also the rafters were compromised with many loosened from the plates. The resulting structural damage required repairs to make the building safe and to prevent an eventual collapse.
The Vernon Historical Society saw the need for intervention and volunteered to accept sponsorship for the repair and restoration of the church. The project began by raising funds to repair the structural damage ensuring overall stability, safety and preservation for future use. A four-man team worked three days to make this building safe, prolonging the life of the structure for many years to come.
Paid in full, the repair amount of $11,000 came from donations from friends of Hard Labor Church and the Vernon Historical Society. To complete the restoration, other issues with the building still need correcting. All doors and windows will need repair or replacement. The buildings numerous coats of paint need removal and the building repainted. Trees that pose a danger to the building need removal as soon as possible.
There is no active congregation for the church, leaving the progress of these repairs to depend on donations from the public. The Friends of Hard Labor Church and the Vernon Historical Society, a non-profit organization, have financed the recent structural repairs and will continue to seek funding sources to complete the renovation.