After several plans to relocate the century-old Graves House in Bluffton failed to come to fruition over the past year, a plan to shift and renovate the house on its current lot will be presented Wednesday to the town's Historic Preservation Commission.
With time running out on the agreement approved last year to move the house, officials with Bluffton United Methodist Church are proposing to move the historic home closer to Calhoun and Allen streets, opening room behind the property for future expansion, according to the proposal submitted to the commission.
At Wednesday's meeting, which begins at 6 p.m. at Town Hall, church officials are expected to seek approval of the new proposal and an extension to move the home.
The original agreement required the home to be relocated, rehabilitated and a certificate of occupancy issued by June 15. The home would be in violation of the town's certificate of appropriateness after that date, town officials said last month.
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The church, which owns the property and had tried to remove the home from the land, will retain ownership of the Graves House in the proposal. The church had an agreement with Thomas Viljac to transfer ownership of the home to the developer if he could relocate it, but Viljac was unable to find a suitable site, said architect and church chairman of finance William Court.
Viljac said in May he planned on asking for an extension at Wednesday's meeting. Court said seven sites were ultimately considered for the home, but none of them worked out. The plan to keep the home on its current site began to materialize about two months ago, he said.
Viljac came close twice to moving the home to locations farther north on Calhoun Street during the summer. One was nixed after the landowner said the move wouldn't work, and the second site was dropped after the lot was determined to be too narrow. Residents also didn't like the idea of cutting tree limbs to allow for the move up Calhoun Street.
Commission members said at the May meeting they preferred the home stay at the corner of Calhoun and Allen streets and be renovated.
Viljac will likely be included as a partner in the arrangement, Court said.
The church's proposal would move the home southwest about 15 feet on the lot, putting it about 25 feet from the two streets.
Moving the home to the front of the property would open space for additions to it; the drawings submitted to the town show a 25-square-foot building and a 38-foot by 54-foot building as potential add-ons. No designs for additions to the property have been created, Court said.
The home would be used as office space and classrooms after the renovation, Court said. The church had planned to construct a new building after the Graves House move for similar uses.
If the relocation is approved, the church plans to move the home by July 31 and begin raising money for the renovations in August. Fundraising will continue through October, with renovations to start in November and finish in March 2016, the proposal said.
Follow reporter Matt McNab at twitter.com/IPBG_Matt.