Martinsville church seeks to demolish historic rectory - FOX 21/27 WFXR Roanoke/WWCW Lynchburg News, Weather

Martinsville church seeks to demolish historic rectory

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Some Martinsville churchgoers are concerned about plans to demolish an old rectory.

The Vestry at the Christ Episcopal Church says it wants to tear down the historic structure, partly, because of rising repair costs.

In a September 2013 letter to parishioners of Christ Episcopal Church, the Vestry announced plans to pursue the demolition of the rectory. Church leaders submitted an application to the city of Martinsville to have the old structure torn down.

The proposed plan has parishioners like Jennie Blankenship concerned.

"There is no reason to demolish the rectory" Blankenship said. "It is in need of repairs but a lot of it is from deferred maintenance. It is something meaningful to us."

According to the letter, estimated repairs range between $25,000 - $82,000. Church leaders stated that keep the historic structure would be a drain on their already tight budget.

Susan McCullough works with the Martinsville Planning Office. She said the structure was built in the 1940'. The rectory on local, state and federal historic registers which means the the city's Architectural Review Board must first approve any demolition plans.

For nearly 20 year the church rented out the facility, despite the mold problems and other issues. According to the demolition application, church leaders want to move in a different direction.

" The application says they rather not rent the building, they don't want to be a landlord" said McCullough. "According to the application, they think it would be better suited as a field or parking lot."

Some churchgoers said the building holds sentimental value and contributes to the historical district's character.

While church leaders said their goal is to save money, others hope to save a part of the church's history.

The church's demolition application is still incomplete. Once finished, it will be up to the Martinsville Architectural Review Board to decide if the historic building will remain standing.