Vormsi ST OlaF's Church / ORMSÖ S:T OLAFS KYRka

Articles / Artiklar

The good weather blessed the finish of the church roof work

29.06.2023 Kata Varblane
Published in the newspaper of Vormsi municipality

Roof repair of the choir room of St. Olaf's Church in Vormsi was happily completed. If the nave got a new roof last summer, the late spring spurt was powerful, and now one important stage of the renovation of the entire church has been completed. The work went very smoothly in the hands of the masters of Resteh OÜ (Aare, Viktor and Ardo). While the cooler, rainless month of May worried farmers, the conditions for roofing work were ideal.

The wallboard of the eastern gable of the nave was in relatively good condition and did not need to be replaced, but it was covered with a lot of tar. The nice smell of tar in the churchyard will be a sign of this for a long time. Also, in addition to the choir room, the northern retaining wall of the church received a new foundation and stone roof.

The weather vane pole of the choir room underwent a thorough overhaul - it was cleaned, hot-dip galvanized and painted. The flag leaf was restored and the brass leaf of the flag received a dignified gold leaf coating. Like the nave, the choir room also received proper lightning protection and a new gutter system. The works were made possible thanks to a 50,000-euro grant from the Heritage Protection Board, Vormsi municipality contributed 10,000 euros as co-financing, and the congregation's self-financing was a little over 10,000 euros, which was helped to pay by the Rekola friendship congregation in Finland. All small and large donations to the church have been extremely important. Many thanks to all for the donors and supporters in other ways!

When the roof work was completed, interested people could visit the ceiling of the church and see the work done under the roof from the inside. "It's an incredible relief that the roof of the historic sanctuary on Vormsi no longer leaks. And as a bonus, the new roof is beautiful to look at for both the locals and the guests," said Ants Rajando, the teacher of the parish and the organizer of the construction works.

What's next? However, the work at the church is not finished. Next year, it is planned to start with the repair of the exterior facade and the restoration of doors and windows. In the future, the church's interior decoration and electrical system will need to be renewed.

The repair works of Vormsi church can be supported with a donation:
MTÜ Vormsi Püha Olavi Kiriku Fond
EE272200221077146284 Swedbank

Explanation: donation for church repairs

Finally, one more good news, our golden-handed roofer Aare became the father of twins. Congratulations to the whole family!

The man with the golden hands from the roof

27.07.2022  Kata Varblane
Published in the newspaper of Vormsi municipality

Arriving at the churchyard in Vormsi, there was no need to search for Aare from afar, the man was on the roof. In the same place where he has spent the last almost three months without days off. How Aare Laanes, the site manager of Resteh OÜ, came across Vormsi, how the construction work on the church roof has progressed, and what impression Vormsi and the people from Vormsi have left on him. Aare and I talked about all of this at the beginning of the week of St. Olaf's Day, when the end of the construction work had imperceptibly arrived.

Objektijuht Aare Laanes värskelt remonditud katuse taustal. Foto: Kata Varblane

How did you end up building a roof for the church in Vormsi? 

We have restored quite a lot of churches and manor buildings. Experience and recommendations have come from there. We have mostly operated in Lääne County and Rapla County. Last year, three churches were under our construction at the same time - the tower of St. John's Church, the roof of the choir room of Piirsalu Church, and the roofs of the buttress of Kullamaa Church. I had never been to Vormsi before, which was one of the reasons why I gladly accepted this job. Solving the logistics of the island seemed exciting. I myself live on a farm twenty kilometers from Haapsalu towards Keila. Now I have taken more ferry trips in a short period of time than in my entire previous life combined. 

The big challenge was logistics. 

We had to plan the ferry times a week in advance. But the ferry crew was very nice to work with, they were very helpful. The materials were put on the ferry from the mainland, I went to Sviby harbor and we received the things on the same day. Two days of crane work was calculated to lift the stones to the roof, but we got the job done in half a day. However, the crane driver was in a lot of trouble because there was no way he could get a place to return to the earlier ferry. We brought the scaffolding to Vormsi for three days by traveling back and forth on the ferry with a small box truck. It was not possible to get a ticket for a bigger car - it was May and the time of forest transport. 

Communication with the locals from the church to the pub. 

The local people welcomed us very warmly. First Ants and Kristina from church. The shopkeepers were our best supporters, Liina from the Retro cafe offered good pizza, we became great friends with Arvo from the harbor and Hardi from the Krog. By the way, the cellulose wool from the church's attic now migrated to the second floor of the Krog - the church and the pub have been hand in hand since ancient times. We were happy, otherwise the wool would have gone to waste. I announced in the Facebook group Vormsilased that the rainwater pipes were on offer and they found immediately a new owner. It does not make sense for us to transport waste to the mainland if it can be used locally. The accommodation in the parsh house's sauna was very comfortable. If there was no sauna, I would definitely have gone off the island more often, now there was no need. Everything was excellent from Vormsi side. 

There were a lot of surprises during the construction work. 

Laying the roof tiles was actually the smaller part of the work, replacing the rotten wooden parts (rafters, beams, battens) took the majority of the time. When we removed the first tin sheet, we immediately came upon a vein of gold - exactly in this place, there was a rafter that had rotted through its full length. For a while, there was a real fear that maybe the next rafters would need the same amount of work, but luckily this was the only rafter that needed to be replaced in full length. At first, it was a mystery how that rafter could be almost empty inside. In essence, the rafter functioned as a gutter. One day Ants Varblane came to greet us and wish us strength and solved the mystery. In 1988, he himself had examined the rotted part of the rafter so that the rafter would not rot further. Since changing the rafter would have been too much of a job at that time, the rafter was supported on the sides, and this solution has lasted until now. The old solution would not have been able to withstand the load of the significantly heavier stone roof, and the rafter was now replaced with a new one. It was interesting that the wooden structures were only in bad shape on the south side of the roof. The back side was in perfect condition. In addition to one of the beforementioned 8-meter rafters, it was also necessary to replace the wall battens. Since the amount of woodwork grew significantly larger than expected, this year the roof of the buttress on the north side and the walkways on the attic pennies will not be done. According to the project, it was planned to replace only a few pins, but it was necessary to make about thirty pins instead. Making pins is the most time-consuming (and expensive) job. You saw wood through with a hand saw, hammered it together with a hammer and so on ten times in a row until neither paper nor a hair can fit through it. 

Vormsi wood is highly appreciated. 

The majority of the material we used for taping, we brought from the mainland ourselves. It must have been dry for many years. But the rest of the material was all from the island. We were very satisfied with the material. The wood of Vormsi is dense and heavy. Because of this exact quality, Vormsi wood is so expensive and in high demand.

The previous roof was made in 1988, it lasted for 34 years. What about the new one?

The old sheet metal was very thick and neat, not rusty at all, but the rollers got loose over time. It is bad to roll such a thick sheet, such material cannot be compressed tightly enough.
Now the church has a double roof. Under the stone is another watertight SPS-roof with full boards. If, for example, snow blows through the S-stone in winter, all the snow/water runs down the other roof and it cannot damage the wooden structures.
I will not predict the time, it is a thankless job. Anyway, it's done properly, I can confirm that. The supervision has also been very satisfied with the work.

Work at Vormsi offered challenges.

As with any old thing, there was a lot of figuring out. Several pins made during the previous repair had to be replaced because they do not meet today's requirements. The golden rule is that the pin must be at least twice the diameter of the material, i.e. for a large beam, there must be at least a 60 cm pin. We had to create several special solutions and gimmicks for the pins, because with the constructions here, 60 cm did not work out in some places. Making pins is such a specific job that I had to do most of the pins myself.
The exciting challenge was taking down the cross and the weathervane from the roof, painting them and bringing them back. The weight of this cross made it difficult, it was almost 100 kilograms. Lifting such a weight in turns on the roof is a real test.
It was also an interesting discovery that the air bladder of a bicycle was placed under the cross and weathervane so that it would hold water. The work methods were basically correct - it was intended that the solution would hold water. It was solved simply with the tools available, it was a different time then, and everything was understandable.

The techniques are passed directly from master to master.

I learned a lot from my father. I studied general engineering at the Haapsalu Vocational School and I studied civil engineering at the Tallinn Technical College. Directly restoration I haven't studied at school. It's come from working experience and from my father. The very first place of practice was the barn of the Lihula manor, and already my third job was a church - the roof of the Ridala church. I got over my fear of heights already then.

Birthday under the cross

This entire roof was made with essentially three men, the core team also included Viktor Startsev and Ardo Jürjer. We started on May 9 and since then we have been here practically all the time. We have also worked on Saturdays and Sundays, except for the times of church services. I also spent my birthday on the roof - I remember it well, because on that day I installed lightning protection for the cross.

The weather was rather generous

The goal was to have a waterproof roof on by Midsummer's Day. We made it by then. After that, the weather turned bad. So we were lucky. I remember that when there was only a film on the roof, which is never 100% waterproof, I went to put buckets in the attic at 2 a.m. when it started to rain. That's the job of the site manager, he has to solve all situations. Meanwhile, while the stones were being laid on the roof, the weather was very changeable. It was good that we could choose to work under the roof for days when the sun alternated with rain.

The long working days allowed us to stay on schedule for three months.

The stone patching part went particularly smoothly. The men had a strong motivation to finish quickly and the pace was on. Even though it was originally planned that 2/3 of the stones would be clamped, we decided to be safe and clamped all the stones to make the roof as windproof as possible. The next job is to lay the cornices of Kullamaa Church. And after that comes a well-deserved rest.

The speciality of Vormsi enthralled

The people of Vormsi are very nice. It was interesting, for example, that everyone waves when you drive a car. At first, we thought that we had a car similar to someone else's, but then we realized that this is how it should be done and followed it. It creates a good feeling as if everyone are great friends.
The tare system is powerful on the spot. This [throwing the tare into the bag manually] is much faster than modern automatic machines. I have really started to like life on the island. A joke was already made that I should start looking for a plot, because the island is always in need of men with golden hands.
With three months on the island, I really got used to its habits. When I go to the mainland, I forget to close doors and do other things that quickly became typical on the island. I definitely plan to come back to Vormsi as a guest.

A recommendation for Vormsi 

The most popular question that we had to answer every day was, where are the sun crosses located? A big signpost to the cemetery would be needed. We would have finished our work faster if we didn't have to constantly lead the way :) We met a lot of different people while working here. On the first day, there was, for example, a gentleman from Singapore. Unexpectedly, I also met my mainland neighbor who was bringing people to church by bus. While working at the church, it became clear that no matter what time of day you come, there is always someone walking around the church and asking for the way to the sun crosses.

The major reparation of the roof of the church has started

Ants Rajando 
Spring 2022

Stacks of tables and scaffolding have risen again around the church in Vormsi. Work has begun to replace the old tin roof of the nave of the sanctuary with a new stone roof. The work is carried out by the workers of Haapsalu company Resteh OÜ.

At the beginning of this year, the Heritage Protection Board decided to grant 70,879 euros for the repairs of the nave of the roof of the St. Olaf church in Vormsi, the island's main historical monument and attraction. The prerequisite for receiving support from the state was, among other things, the decision of the Vormsi parish council to support the repair of the sanctuary with 14,000 euros and the parish's commitment to find 18,000 euros for its own participation. The congregation hopes to collect the necessary amount for its own participation with the help of good people.

Repair of the roof is essential because over the years there have been many places in the roof where rainwater comes through with the wind and damages the wooden structures of the building. Currently, the moisture damage to the roof and ceiling load-bearing structures is not yet great, but if the leakage continues, the situation would quickly deteriorate and make the amount of necessary work considerably larger and more expensive.

The church received the current single-roll tin roof in 1988. At that time, in order to save the sanctuary, which had been without a congregation for nearly half a century, the old dilapidated roof had to be restored urgently. It was still the time of the Soviet occupation and it was not possible to get a proper roof sheet. Over the years, the disposable rolls made of poor sheet metal have loosened and opened, and the roof has started to leak water in many places.

The initiation of the roof construction at that time was of historical importance, as it led to the complete renovation of the church, the restoration of the congregation and the grand re-blessing of the church in 1990, and the tradition of celebrating Olaf's Day began.

Natural red ceramic so-called Dutch S-stone is planned for the new roof of the church. Under the stones, a dense windproof and waterproof underlay is built, so that rainwater can no longer damage the roof structures even with strong winds. The new roof will also be more beautiful and more appropriate to the architecture of the ancient sanctuary. The restoration work project has been prepared by Rändmeister OÜ.

Roof repairs will not interfere with summer church services. The builders have also promised to ensure a safe entrance for visitors to the church, and the sanctuary will remain open.
The work undertaken this year must be continued in the following years. The plan is to replace the roof of the church's choir room, then renew the plaster surfaces of the exterior walls and the windows. The interior of the church and the electrical system needs to be renewed as well.

The congregation has created the NGO Vormsi St. Olaf's Church Fund to finance the church repair. Through this fund, anyone who cares about the preservation of our island's ancient sanctuary can contribute with a donation.

The repair works of Vormsi church can be supported with a donation:
MTÜ Vormsi Püha Olavi Kiriku Fond
EE272200221077146284 Swedbank

Explanation: donation for church repairs

In addition, it is possible to make a donation to the church fund by purchasing a specially designed clay candle holder in the shape of a ship. The candle wax in the boat is melted from the remains of the holy candles burned in the church. Each boat is unique - made by Vormsi craftsmen. Donation ships can be purchased from the church or from Vormsi Handicraft Store in Hullo.

The congregation thanks everyone who helps to repair and maintain the sanctuary on the island.


Den stora reparationen av Ormsö kyrkans tak har påbörjats

Högar av byggnadsställningar har återrest sig runt kyrkan på Ormsö. Arbetet med att byta ut det gamla plåttaket i helgedomens långhus har påbörjats mot ett nytt stentak. Arbetet utförs av arbetarna på Haapsalu-företaget Resteh OÜ. 

I början av detta år beslutade kulturarvsnämnden att bevilja 70 879 euro för reparationer av långhuset på taket på Ormsö S:t Olaf kyrkan, öns främsta historiska monument och attraktion. Förutsättningen för att få stöd från staten var bland annat Ormsö församlingsfullmäktiges beslut att stödja reparationen av helgedomen med 14 000 euro och församlingens åtagande att finna 18 000 euro för eget deltagande. Församlingen hoppas kunna samla in det belopp som behövs för eget deltagande med hjälp av gott folk. 

Reparation av taket är viktigt, eftersom det genom åren har funnits många platser i taket där regnvatten pressar igenom av vinden och skadar byggnadens träkonstruktioner. För närvarande är fuktskadorna på tak- och takbärande konstruktioner ännu inte stora, men om läckaget fortsätter skulle situationen snabbt förvärras och göra mängden nödvändiga arbeten avsevärt större och dyrare. 

Kyrkan fick det nuvarande envalsiga plåttaket 1988. För att rädda helgedomen, som hade stått utan församling i nästan ett halvt sekel, måste då det gamla förfallna taket snarast återställas. Det var fortfarande den sovjetiska ockupationens tid och det gick inte att få tag i en ordentlig takplåt. Genom åren har engångsrullarna av dålig plåt gett vika och öppnat sig och taket har börjat läcka vatten på många ställen. 

Igångsättningen av takkonstruktionen vid den tiden var av historisk betydelse, eftersom det var början på den totala renoveringen av kyrkan, restaureringen av församlingen och den storslagna återinvigningen av kyrkan 1990, liksom traditionen att fira S:t Olafs dag. 

Naturröd keramik så kallad holländsk S-sten planeras för det nya taket på kyrkan. Under stenarna byggs ett tätt vind- och vattentätt underlag, så att regnvatten inte längre kan skada takkonstruktionerna även vid hård vind. Det nya taket kommer också att bli mycket vackrare och mer passande för den antika helgedomens arkitektur. Restaureringsarbetet har utarbetats av Rändmeister OÜ. 

Takreparationer kommer inte att störa sommarservicen. Byggherrarna har också lovat att säkerställa en säker entré för besökare till kyrkan, och helgedomen kommer att vara öppen för intresserade under sommarperioden. 

Det arbete som genomförts i år måste fortsätta under de följande åren. Planen är att byta ut taket på kyrkans körrum, för att sedan förnya ytterväggarnas och fönstrens putsytor. Kyrkans inre och elsystemet behöver också förnyas. 

Församlingen har skapat Ormsö S:t Olafs kyrkofond för att finansiera kyrkreparationen. Genom detta kan alla som bryr sig om bevarandet av vår öns orörda fristad bidra med en donation. 

Reparationsarbetena i Ormsö kyrka kan stödjas med donation: 
MTÜ Vormsi Püha Olavi Kiriku Fond
EE272200221077146284 Swedbank
Förklaring: donation till kyrkreparationer 

Dessutom är det möjligt att ge en donation till kyrkofonden genom att köpa en specialdesignad lerljusstake i form av ett skepp. Ljusvaxet i skeppet smälts från resterna av de heliga ljusen som bränns i kyrkan. Varje båt är unik - tillverkad av Ormsö hantverkare. Donationsskepp kan köpas från kyrkan eller från Ormsö Hantverksbutik i Hullo.

Församlingen tackar alla som hjälper till att organisera och underhålla helgedomen på ön.