The owner of the Methodist-Episcopal church on the corner of U.S. 23 and State Route 315 received a tax credit of $191,538 from the Ohio Development Services Agency. That will help renovate the old stone building to be an office space for David Kerr Architect LLC.
“We just went through a seven-month process with the state, the people were terrific.” said owner Dave Kerr. “We’re very excited about it.”
Kerr said he was still waiting on one more historical tax credit that was applied for at the same time as the state credit. “We’ll hear from them in the next six weeks,” he said. “We’re looking at the the end of February to start construction.”
According to the agency the total cost is projected to be $996,758.
The old building has been caught in the middle of the Stratford Road construction project since April. In that time Kerr had time to take a closer look at the details of the building and to work on designs. He said the drawings for the space are 60 percent completed, but not ready for the construction level.
“We’ve been playing with our designs for six months now,” Kerr said. “We think it’s going to be a beautiful space when finished.”
Kerr said originally he wasn’t going to apply for any of the preservation tax credits, but he found out the building was listed on the National Register of Historical Sites in 1991 with all of the buildings along Stratford Road.
“We didn’t have a full understanding of the tax credit process at that time,” Kerr said. “Since the building was listed we were able to apply for the tax credits.”
Kerr said he understands the significance of the old church to the area.
“The building was originally dedicated on July 4, 1844 with a reading of the Declaration of Independence,” Kerr said. “We’ve gotten a lot of positive responses from the community.”
Kerr said since the building was to be used as an office and not a church as originally intended he still want to celebrate the historic value of the building. Kerr has done a lot of detailed research into the materials used in the building.
“We plan to keep the the rough cut stone walls and trusses even though it’s not what you would have seen historically,” he said. “Churches are very historic buildings when you think about the services, the weddings and the baptisms that have been held there.”
Kerr said it has been a learning experience since he has never gone through this type of process before.
“We’ve had to interpolate what they did in the 1800s,” he said. “We’ve looked at very detailed things like the trim on the windows and what type of mortar to use. Kerr said. “What type of materials were used on the walls, the roof or around the windows?”
Earlier The Gazette reported, according to Sue Bauer, a volunteer for the Delaware Historical Society, the building was last used as a church in 1958, then sold in 1960 to a private owner. Over the years, it’s been bought and sold many times to be used as many different things. It had been used as a house and lived in for a time.
“Various owners had plans to renovate and use it,” she said. “I think it was a shop at one time.”
His firm is housed on State Route 315, north of Interstate 270 in Columbus. He said he has been an architect in the area for 20 years and has owned his own firm for the last five years. He purchased the property over a year ago.
D. Anthony Botkin may be reached at 740-413-0902 or on Twitter @dabotkin.