Lambert's Cove Church may get new life as place to live
The plywood has been removed, the staging is in place and restoration of the historic Lambert's Cove Church and adjoining parsonage in West Tisbury is scheduled to begin within a couple of weeks once the permitting process is complete, according to the new property owners.
Built in 1846, the church and parsonage (or rectory) were "relieved of service" by the New England Conference of the United Methodist Church in 1997 and boarded up. Partners Neal Kaplan, Lisa Foster, and Josh Yates purchased the property in 2008. They plan to convert it into living space and a studio.
Before work gets under way, the new owners want to raffle off about 14 pews and 30 bibles. They are planning to hold a public open house from 1 to 3 pm this Saturday.
"We are hoping that former parishioners will want to take home one of these Bibles," Mr. Kaplan said in a conversation with The Martha's Vineyard Times on Tuesday.
Mr. Kaplan, whose firm is Nealestate LLC of Providence. R.I., is a contractor specializing in the restoring of historic properties. Ms. Foster owns Reconstructure LLC, an architectural design and build firm also headquartered in Providence. Mr. Yates is an artist who formerly had a gallery in Aquinnah. All three said they have deep roots on Martha's Vineyard as year-round renters and visitors. "We will be restoring the buildings with respect for its past and a strong sense of community," Ms. Foster said.
Ms. Foster said the partners had been negotiating to purchase the property for two years with earlier offers being turned down. The property was put on the market and then taken off of the market several times until the deal was finalized in 2008.
The purchase price was $650,000 and the restoration budget is currently $200,000 with much of the work being done in-house to keep the budget as low as possible, according to Mr. Kaplan.
The church exterior will be restored, the bulkhead covered, a new entrance to the basement installed as well as a new bathroom. Finishing the interior of the church may take longer, due to budgetary restraints, said Mr. Kaplan.
Mr. Foster said the West Tisbury Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) was adamant that the church could not be used as a community center due in part to concerns about adequate parking. The church is zoned residential and will be only for personal use as a bedroom and perhaps a studio for Mr. Yates.
The parsonage house renovation includes demolition of the existing western one-story portion of the old building and replacing it with a new structure on a new foundation. A full basement will replace the slab and new mechanicals will be installed along with additional storage space. The kitchen and bathroom in the rear will be replaced with a family room and modern kitchen. The number of bedrooms will be decreased from three to two, according to the ZBA application.
The partners said that once the sale was completed, neighbors voiced a variety of concerns about the future use and appearance of the church and whether it was an investment property that would be quickly resold after the renovation. Ms. Foster and Mr. Kaplan said they want their new neighbors to know that they intend to use it year-round.
"We will stay true to the architecture of the past," Mr. Kaplan said. He added that from the road both structures will look like they did when the Lambert's Cove church and rectory were just that, "historic structures with deep roots in the island community."