No one has been able to step into First Presbyterian Church of Douglas since arson back in May burned the church. But, now Pastor Peggy Christiansen and her congregation are able to let people in to assess the damage left from the fire.

“I want to jump out of my skin. Im so excited,” she said. This building is unique and historic and we want someone who really gets that, so were excited. Were excited to start.

Sun Valley Masonry, out of Tucson, spent seven days bracing three of the church walls with 31 steel poles to the walls. This will allow the walls to be secured and less susceptible to falling over.

These braces will hopefully ensure that these walls stand throughout the construction processes and the remodel and rebuild,” Sun Valley Masonry Field Supervisor, John Sugameli said. “I think the last thing anyone wants is this building from 1905 to come down.

Christiansen said the next step is for the architect and engineers to look over the property to address the damage. Because no one has been inside the building, it’s unknown what kind of repairs are needed.

I dont think well necessarily be able to restore it fully but we know that we are at least going to be able to save part of it, and that history is very important, Christiansen said.

For the pastor and her congregation this is a long-awaited first step because they haven’t been able to move forward until now. They had to first find a company that could brace the walls so the rest of the work can be done.

“We keep boosting each others spirits,” the pastor said. “So when one of us is feeling discouraged, another one says hang in there, persevere, were going to get there. So our community has really been strengthened.

Once the pastor and the congregation have the suggested plans from the engineers and architects, they will begin construction and have a more detailed plan for what they can do. In the mean time they will continue to have services when they have been and continuing church activities.

“We’re learning you don’t need a church building to be a church,” Christiansen said.

There isn’t yet a time table for completion.

“At this point we’re just taking it one day at a time,” the pastor said.