Genoans say amen to church progress

Repairing the Genoa Town Church has become an important cause for the residents of Nevada's Oldest Town.

Repairing the Genoa Town Church has become an important cause for the residents of Nevada's Oldest Town.
Photo by Kurt Hildebrand.

With a pledge for engineering to repair the foundation of the Town Church, Genoans voted on Tuesday to ask the county to transfer $45,550 in federal funds from planning to building.

New Genoa residents Eric and Maigorzata Nichol of the Engineering firm Moffatt & Nichol offered to work on the church for free.

“They are definitely stepping up in their first 30 days of living here,” Town Board Chairman Gordon Pasley said. “It still has to go out to bid. But it’s hard to beat zero.”

Nichol said his firm worked on the Bay Bridge and has 50 offices including a half-dozen in Europe.

The church is owned by the Town of Genoa, which rents it out as a venue for weddings and funerals. It is also home to a congregation that leases the church on an annual basis.

The engineering is estimated at $50,000, but Nichol assured the town it would be completed for free.

“I doff my chapeau to these folks,” Genoa native Bill Brooks said. “In all my years, I’ve never seen someone step up with an offer like this. Don’t let this one go.”

Town Manager David Qualls said Tuesday’s approval is only the first step in the process to get the money moved. After going to the internal review committee, Douglas County commissioners would have the final say.

“Then we could start with actual repairs,” he said. “We have to jump through a couple of hoops, but we know what those hoops are.”

Town Board members also approved allowing the nonprofit Friends of Genoa to collect tax deductible donations for work on the church.

During Candy Dance, one young Genoan put out two bottles with a note to collect donations and was able to raise $509, Town Board member Brian Crowe said.

In October, participants in the Mercedes 300SL Rally asked Sierra Chef, who catered their lunch, to choose a charity to donate $2,000 to and owner Cynthia Ferris-Bennett picked the church.

There were serious concerns that repairing the foundation would cost around $1 million until Genoa Co. owner Roger Falcke and Crowe climbed underneath to inspect the supports last summer.

In August, Falcke told the town board spending the federal money on a feasibility study would be a waste.

“We could almost do the work for that kind of money,” he said. “Wasting it on a study is ridiculous.”

Falcke said he, his brother and father were involved in building the church’s 1993 addition.

“The church is certainly in no danger of falling down any time soon,” Falcke said. “We have time. Give us a few months to come back with a proposal to take on this project.”

During that August meeting, Crowe said that the exterior of the old foundation was in sad shape.

“But once you go underneath the building and see all the supports that were put there, they were in excellent condition. That was overwhelming to me.”

Because Nixon Street is built on a slope, the church’s uphill side is subject to flooding.

Falcke has long advocated building the wall on that side and a drainage ditch, so water doesn’t build up there.

“It was a lot better situation than I thought I was going to see when we went down underneath there,” Crowe said. “Roger has the expertise, and we can come up with the right structural people to do the feasibility work we need to do to keep this moving and get the church grounded.”

There has been a church in Genoa for about 140 years. The congregation dates back to 1859, according to a historical plaque at the church.

In an article reprinted by the Genoa Weekly Courier, the new Methodist Church was dedicated June 4, 1882.

“There were 23 of the Williamses, exclusive of the Sheriff and his wife,” wrote the reporter for the Carson Tribune. “There were several score of Dangbergs and Jonses.”

The Great Genoa Fire of 1910 claimed the church along with many of the surrounding structures, according to former Town Historian Billie Jean Rightmire.

“Building materials were donated and community volunteer labor built the church,” Rightmire wrote in the official history.


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