Hope Mills residents concerned about future of historic church
Posted April 6, 2016
Updated April 7, 2016
Hope Mills, N.C. — The Hope Mills Board of Commissioners and the Hope Mills Historic Advisory Committee will meet behind closed doors Friday evening to discuss the future of a historic church.
The Christ Episcopal Church, on South Main Street in downtown Hope Mills, was built in 1893 and is part of the National Registry of Historic Places. Some residents say it is the perfect place for a museum, but they are worried town leaders have other plans for the property.
Patricia Hall, 82, is the chairman of the historical preservation committee. In 2012, she persuaded the Episcopal Diocese of East Carolina to donate the church to be used as a museum.
"Now, we are at the point that renovation in starting, and we are collecting historic items, thinking that we could move in shortly and start building," Hall said.
The museum would be housed in the parish house next to the church, but Dr. John Raynor, who owns an eye care office next door, has made an offer to purchase the property.
While town leaders will not confirm that, they say they have spent a lot of money to renovate the building into a museum.
"We've spent money to do an environmental assessment," said Hope Mills Town Manager John Ellis. "We actually hired an architect, so there is a designer for a museum project."
But according to several sources, Raynor wants to move the parish house to the other side of the property and expand his parking lot.
Ellis said there are other things going on that have delayed the museum project.
"There is a storm water project going on, a utility project going on, on a side street that we need to connect to," he said. "Our contractor did not want to start until he could finish the renovation and the parking lot at one time."