For the past seven years, Blackhawk Church Fitchburg functioned as a “portable” church. Each Sunday, 30 volunteers would work for 3 hours loading chairs, tables, and toys in and out of a local middle school for worship services. The need for a new permanent home was clear.
The church’s design-build team was tasked with creating a space that could house weekly worship services, as well as a public space that could be a cornerstone of the community. In addition to being functional, the design also needed to be welcoming to its new neighbors and passersby. The architect was told to design the building “with no back side,” meaning the building would be appealing and inviting from every angle.
Blackhawk Church Fitchburg is the very first concrete tilt-up church in Wisconsin. It was a “leap of faith” for the church to trust the architect and builder to use concrete tilt-up as the construction method for such a visible and public building. Construction of Blackhawk’s concrete tilt-up wall panels occurred during late fall and into the month of January. Special care was taken to make sure the concrete cured properly and could be erected without cracking.
Of the 76 cast-on-site concrete tilt-up panels, 19 were curved! The curved panels were arranged to create a striking curved wall along the building’s southwest side. This curve was then echoed by an outer layer of wood cladding and adorned with the church’s cross to create a memorable first impression for those driving past.
The new Blackhawk Church Fitchburg was built on the site of the Dunn family farm, the oldest farm in Dane County. One year before the project began, Newcomb employees salvaged 20 pallets worth of the limestone foundation of the 110-year old barn that remained on site. Two years later the reclaimed limestone was then re-laid inside the new church in several areas, connecting a piece of history to the future of the community.
The church’s Children’s Ministry features a 100-year-old Red Oak that once grew in the Muscoda, WI area. This 11’ high section was originally the top portion of a tree that stood over 60’ tall, and it weighs over 1500 pounds! The placement of the tree in the Children’s Ministry represents the growth of the children who will learn there, and also provides an adorable centerpiece for their gathering space.
Blackhawk Church Fitchburg received a $20,000 grant through Renew Wisconsin’s Solar for Good initiative. This initiative fosters the expansion of solar power among mission-based nonprofits and houses of worship in Wisconsin. The new church features a 100kW roof mounted solar array. A system of this size can generate up to 450kWh per day, greatly reducing the church’s carbon footprint.
As Blackhawk Senior Pastor Chris Dolson says, “A church is not a building; a church is a community.” While we are extremely proud of the building we have completed for Blackhawk Church Fitchburg, we are even more excited to see how it will impact and enrich the people of Fitchburg.