Williston-West Church and Parish House (1888)

THE ISSUE

When the congregation of Williston-West Church merged with Immanuel Baptist in 2011, the church building in the West End was placed on the market. A new owner purchased the building in 2012 and requested a zoning change from R-4 to Conditional R-4 to allow a portion of the parish hall to be used for up to fourteen employees of their computer software business.

The project was tied up in a legal challenge until 2015. The owner has altered plans for the Parish House to include additional housing units. Plans were presented to accommodate four parking spaces in the existing courtyard, replace the brick connector with a new modern entrance to the residential units and torestore the landscaping to its early 20th century appearance.

OUR POSITION

The Francis Fassett designed church (1888) and John Calvin Stevens designed parish hall (1914) are significant landmarks in the West End Historic District. Landmarks supported the conditional rezoning of the Williston-West Church provided the owner adhered to a performance guarantee. The City required completion of certain restoration projects to preserve the building and off street parking. Landmarks advocated for additional conditions including continued maintenance of the buildings and a written annual report to the City. Landmarks drafted language for the performance guarantee and conditions of the rezoning which were adopted by the Planning Board and City Council when they approved the rezoning. Subsequently several residents of the Western Promenade appealed the Council’s decision to the Superior Court.

Landmarks continues to support the owner’s plans to restore the church and reutilize the parish house. The planned restoration of the landscape will expose the stunning design details of the church and its stained glass windows to public view. The new entrance, while clearly modern, is respectful in scale and detail to the historic brick buildings.

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