Today we’re taking it back, way back to 1979. Many of those who have worked closely with us know that faith is a cornerstone within the Mitchell family. It is always an honor to build a church and other religious facilities. One project that we are fond of is the Castle Hills 1st Baptist Church Sanctuary.
Castle Hills 1st Baptist Church, now known as Castle Hills Church was founded in 1953 and over the decades has seen periods of great growth. During Jack Taylor’s and George Harris’ tenure, the congregation quickly grew during the 70’s and there was a need for expansion. G.W. Mitchell was commissioned, with architects Bartlett Cocke & Associates, to work on the Castle Hills Church Sanctuary. We began working on the project in 1978 and finished in 1979. This four-story building is home to a 1,200 seat auditorium that also includes a basement level choir room cut straight into limestone. Not to mention the Baptist Fan auditorium design with incredible acoustics and sight lines.
This project had a very complex layout. Both Lane and Bill Mitchell contributed to the Castle Hills project at the ground level. Bill recalls being in college working as a laborer digging ditches for grade beams and using a #90 jackhammer. He mentions how this was a great motivator to finish school and get his degree at Texas A&M (Gig ‘Em!). A memorable takeaway for Bill was when he was introduced to the now widely-known “breakfast taco.” Since Taco Cabana was not around in the late ‘70’s, he remembers his fellow laborers bringing tacos with homemade tortillas. If he had only known how popular they’d become in the future, he might have taken a different path.
Lane Mitchell’s first job was with Mitchell Equipment, a separate company at the time, washing concrete pumps and keeping them clean for only $2.00 an hour! He recalls both he and Bill wanted to come home and work over Christmas break. They earned the job of painting the lattice boom on a conventional truck crane parked at the Castle Hills Church. As Texas weather has it, there was a cold front and the weather stayed well below freezing while Lane and Bill painted. Lucky for them the paint was oil-based so it didn’t freeze but it felt like smearing tar onto ice. Once done, the crane had a new layer of black paint and looked wonderful.
Lane remembers how the Castle Hills Church project had a very complex layout. Superintendent, Larry Carlile, had the architect come and walk him through all levels that needed to coordinate with each other. This was a lesson that has stayed with G.W. Mitchell over the years, to maintain consistent and open communications. They began with the sanctuary which was laid out in a Baptist Fan pattern with steps on both sides working their way to the balcony level. The choir loft was duplicated below the platform area so that the rehearsal area matched the layout of the sanctuary. Lane notes that the ceiling beams were isolated concrete and were high above the ground floor with plenty of span across the room. When the project was complete, they had a very functional and modern church sanctuary.
All in all, G.W. Mitchell Construction is honored to have been a part of several projects throughout the Castle Hills Church’s vibrant history including the Faith Building remodel, the Victory Building, a gymnasium and the new steeple all while enjoying both the work and breakfast tacos.