A major addition to Christ & Holy Trinity Episcopal Church hit the "top" Friday, as church leaders and supporters gathered to commemorate the completion of framing for its new Great Hall.

To recognize the milestone, an evergreen tree was placed on top of the structure as a symbol of life and prosperity. The church's rector, the Rev. John Branson, then consecrated the "topping out" with a prayer.

"We ask and pray that the good work and labor here begun, that this vision may be brought to its completion with great thanksgiving," he said.

The Great Hall's roof will be installed within the next two weeks, according to Robert Cavello of Westview Group, which is managing the construction project. He said interior work on the hall will continue through the winter, and that the new addition is scheduled to open for use in the summer of 2011. Construction began last August, and the project is on time and on budget, Cavello added.

The addition is part of a $4.7 million capital campaign to renovate the whole church, and will also include the construction of new classrooms, as well as a refurbishment of its music area. Growth of the church's ministries and outreach work necessitated more space, said Tim Davies, chairman of the campaign. Congregants' donations are funding the improvements.

Christ & Holy Trinity's preschool, summer Bible school, and music and arts program will figure among the church's ministries that will use the Great Hall. Additionally, the hall will serve about 100 community organizations including the Boy Scouts, Alcoholics Anonymous, and guide dog training programs.

An intricate ensemble of parts comprises the approximately 3,500-square-foot Great Hall. Built on a concrete foundation, the hall is framed with a structural steel wall system, which supports heavy timber trusses and a wood-plank ceiling. Concrete masonry structures bookmark the hall at each end.

"The key is you have to make it blend in and look like it's always been there," Cavello said of the hall's masonry work.

Other challenges also confront the hall's construction crew.

"You always have to remember that you're building very close to other buildings," said Scott Marlow, the hall's project manager and building superintendent. "For instance, you have the preschool just next door. There are a lot of factors like that to consider."

The Great Hall represents the first new building work to Christ & Holy Trinity since the 1950s, according to Davies. The church was originally built in 1863, when it was then known as Memorial Church of the Holy Trinity. That church merged with Christ Church in 1944 to form Christ & Holy Trinity. The church, located at 55 Myrtle Avenue, serves a congregation of about 400 families.

Christ & Holy Trinity Church's commitment to its congregation and surrounding community, Branson added, has pushed the project forward amidst adversity.

"Because of the economics, in some respects, it is a real venture in faith to build during these days," he said. "But we feel that God has called us to this, and that it will be a significant asset to both the church and the wider community."