By Joanne Strobel, Urantia Foundation, Chicago, Illinois, United States
The words “upheaval,” “decimation,” and “extinction” appear in The Urantia Book. These words may not have much personal relevance to most of us, but they took on new meaning for the staff of Urantia Foundation over the past two years.
In an effort to restore Foundation headquarters at 533 W. Diversey Parkway in Chicago to its original integrity and dignity, the Board of Trustees approved a major renovation project in 2011. When I arrived here in January 2012, there was destruction, construction, and hanging plastic all over the first floor. Tamara and Connie, both expectant mothers, had long since retreated to dank basement offices in an effort to avoid ingesting toxic dust and fumes. Mike, Jay, and I braved it out upstairs, retreating to the already-completed second floor for some peace and quiet, a functional kitchen, and a working bathroom. By May it was finished, spring was here, babies had arrived, moms were refreshed and had returned to work, and the offices were reassembled. We all reveled in our beautiful, new, and updated surroundings.
The respite was short lived. While our third floor tenants enjoyed their vintage suite and the graciousness of a benevolent landlord, fears began to creep into the minds of management. After all, if an old pipe should break or old electrical wiring should start a fire, the beautiful second and first floors would be ruined if they survived!
Discussions were held, decisions made, funds raised, and action taken. Our bevy of bachelors on the third floor reluctantly vacated their apartment in July. And on August 15, 2013, Dalius “Dale” Budas and his intrepid crew of Lithuanian contractors began demolition of the third and final floor under the supervision of benefactress Jennifer Siegel. And with a nod to Sir Alfred Lord Tennyson,
Plaster to the right of them,
Salvage to the left of them,
Bare stud in front of them
Hammer’d and ravage’d;
Storm'd at with screw and nail,
Boldly they worked, and well,
Into the jaws of Obliteration,
Into the mouth of Destruction
Toiled the six workmen.
I saw the invoice myself. An unimaginable 30 tons of debris was hauled away. We wept and lamented the loss of decrepit claw-footed tubs. We squirreled away vintage doorknobs, hinges, and hooks in the hopes of restoring them someday. We took photographs and posed alongside naked walls and their once-buried electric wires. We sold countless treasures to Salvage One.
Before we knew it, December arrived. The renovation was complete; the makeover accomplished. Dale and his crew, always men of few words (Yes! Soon! Tomorrow? No!) had transformed the entire third floor into a magnificent revival of genteel living. A realtor was recruited to estimate the rent and solicit qualified tenants. Before the Multiple Listing Service ad could hit the internet, the flat was rented by the very first couple who looked at it! And who could blame them?
New Dining Room
New Master Bedroom
Next up is the Coach House, that is, the garage and garage apartment behind the headquarters building. Stay tuned!