Town panel embraces revised plans to expand Bluffton United Methodist Church

dburley@islandpacket.comFebruary 24, 2014 

methodist

An artist’s rendering of initial proposed additions, secondary wings on both sides, to the Bluffton United Methodist Church.

SUBMITTED PHOTO

Revised plans for a $1.4 million expansion to the Bluffton United Methodist Church made new believers out of a town panel Monday night.

The Historic Preservation Commission embraced a new proposal to shorten one of the two brick wings planned for the Calhoun Street church.

The wings would double the church's seating capacity to make room for a congregation of more than 300. Additional room for music equipment and storage would be added to the rear of the church.

At a commission meeting earlier this month, members worried the proposed wing along Allen Street-- measured at more than 60 feet -- would create a looming presence not fit for the historic district.

Architects James Atkins and William Court, who also are members of the church, discussed the issue with the congregation.

"The top priority was seating," Court said Monday. "At this point, that's what we need."

The pair shortened the proposed Allen Street wing to 38 feet and moved the storage facility to the rear of the building.

The revision seemed to please commissioners.

"This is a much more appealing direction," commissioner James Brown said.

Commissioners didn't vote on the plan and asked for the architects to return in March with the new revisions.

The expansion proposal is part of a wider, long-term effort by the church.

Court and the congregation also are working with Bluffton resident Garfield Moss to relocate the century-old Graves House, which the church owns. The house will be moved from its current location on Calhoun to Moss' property on Lawrence and Wharf streets.

Court said the church would build a community room with classrooms and meeting space on the current Graves site.

Moss has until June 30 to complete the relocation, according to the town, and must finish rehabilitation by June 30, 2015.

Follow reporter Dan Burley at twitter.com/IPBG_Dan.

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