St. Joseph's Catholic Church showcased its newly renovated Pine Room when the youth group hosted a Pumpkin Patch fundraiser there last Sunday.

"It's awesome, it's beautiful, it's completely transformed," said parish council chairman Barry Braun.

The renovation was dubbed the Pine Room Expansion Project.

"One side was used as a cafeteria and the other side was the Pine Room," Rev. Keith Streifel said. "So now we've expanded into the whole basement."

Streifel became aware the walls were crumbling when he became pastor five years ago. With further research into the church history, he learned major renovations to the Pine Room were last made in 1952 -- more than 60 years ago.

The parish council determined that cosmetic repairs were no longer an option.

"We've been wanting to remodel for 15 years, and finally with the economy and growth of the parish, we needed to get it done," Braun said.

Streifel said the original sandstone walls were covered with lats and plaster. The sandstone was taken from Sibley Butte in 1903.

"It was amazing to see the sandstone walls," he said. "We put on new walls of knotty pine, which was like the original Pine Room."

The parish council also looked at the heating system.

"Another reason for the remodeling was the heating system is 60-plus years old," Braun said. "The life expectancy of a boiler is 30 years at best. We needed to address these issues, otherwise, the longer we waited the more it would cost," he said.

There were unanticipated expenses as the contractors began their work.

Contractors discovered the carpet was held down with asbestos glue. A special crew was called to remove the glue, and then called back when additional asbestos was detected on the radiator pipes.

Upon inspection of the cast- iron sewer pipes, contractors said they had corroded over time and were a mere 1/8 inch thick. They also needed to be replaced.

Other council considerations were fire suspression and renovations to the kitchen and the bathrooms, making them handicapped accessible.

The renovations, which began in April, came to more than $1 million.

"We have a beautiful church that is more than 110 years old," Streifel said. "Our ancestors gave us such a great gift. At the same time they were building their farms and pioneering this land, they built this beautiful church. We have an opportunity to preserve it and bring it forward for our descendants."

Partitions will divide the Pine Room into eight classrooms for religious education classes. During the construction phase, the CCD students were meeting in Trinity High School.

"Now they can come back home, which means they are closer to our parish and closer to the devotions of our church," Streifel said.