Rising from the ashes: Ash tree remains used to rebuild histori - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Rising from the ashes: Ash tree remains used to rebuild historic Spring Green Church destroyed in fire


Spring Green (WKOW) -- A historic Spring Green church burned to the ground last November.  But from its ashes, actually from an ash tree damaged in the fire, comes an altar wall unlike any other.
"My whole career, I've never been able to put all the boards of one tree into one project," Jim Birkemeier said.  The owner of Spring Green's Timber Growers refused to give up on wood he estimates dates back to the Civil War. 

"It must have been a spiritual connection with the architect, cause when he drew the front of the church, it fit exactly," Birkemeier said about the labor of love.
"My first panic was are we gonna have enough wood and that pile of wood kept producing board after board after board, we had all we needed," he said.
It took more than a week to varnish all the ash, but just two days to put it up.  It's a sight Cornerstone Church's Women & Children Minister Debra Miller says is breathtaking.
"Seeing the wood itself, come out of that tree that was basically rotten in the middle, but so beautiful above, it's very redemptive," she said. 
Birkemeier says he was only happy to be one of the two dozen involved in the project.
"It was an amazing act of faith, we knew we had to do it, but we didn't know how, but we had to and it worked out," he said.
Birkemeier is also using wood from two damaged honey locust trees around the sanctuary. 
There's no set date for the first service, but the church is confident the pews will be in place by January 8th, when an open house will be held from 2 to 6 p.m.

**In the slideshow above, images and captions are from Jim Birkemeier of Timbergreen Farm.

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