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Historic Preservation Commission Approves OUUMC’s Renovations

The Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) last Tuesday approved of case No.371, which involved the Oxford-University United Methodist Church (OUUMC) asking for authorization for renovations and expansions to existing structures on the church’s campus as well as the construction of a two-level parking deck.

The OUUMC had to ask for permission and be granted support for the renovations and new constructions, because the Church was located inside the South Lamar Preservation District, which the HPC oversees.

Brian Hyneman, the chairperson of the HPC, described the Church’s case as unique considering that there were many factors involved with receiving approval for the renovations and new construction.

“The Methodist Church is situated in a place where there are actually oversights by two different committees, one being the Courthouse Square Preservation Commission. They had purview and review over one part, which was simply the parking structure. It was in their district, and the Church renovations were in our district,” Hyneman said.

The Church was able to get both commissions to agree to the components necessary for the Church to pursue its renovations and new constructions.

Eddie Rester, the lead pastor for the OUUMC, was happy that the case was approved by the Historic Preservation Commission, and he described in detail what the renovations and new constructions would entail.

“The project is pretty encompassing. What we’re going to try to do is create entrances to the Church from the Square and also from the front. We’re going to renovate all of our children’s areas that were built in 1964. We’re going to remove a building that was built in 1937 and replace that with offices, with worship space for our contemporary worship services, and then we are going to add on the back of the Church where there is a parking lot right now, a two-story parking deck.” Rester said.

The only buildings that are not being heavily renovated are the Sanctuary, Wesley hall, and the gymnasium. The Sanctuary and Wesley hall are deemed as historically significant as they are two of the oldest parts of the Church, and the only changes that are being made to them are that they will become handicap accessible. The Church did not seek to renovate the gymnasium as it was built in 2006 and they felt that it was still in good condition.

Hyneman also descried how it was easy for the HPC to come to a vote to approve the Church’s renovations and new constructions because of the active communication and cooperation the Church had with the HPC.

“The best part about what the Church did was months before, they came in for what’s called the complimentary review, and at that point in time, there’s no application, but you simply get to discuss parts you like, parts you would change and things of that nature. We did discuss and they actually made changes based on those discussions.” Hyneman said.

“The Methodist Church is right now using every square foot they can and they obviously needed more. You can’t go any further then they’ve gone as far as lot. They are using every lot and I thought their plans to renovate show their…maybe not necessarily concerned but maybe attention to the fact that we need to maintain the historic nature of this Church.” Hyneman said regarding the Church’s handling of keeping the renovations and new constructions close to how the Church looks like now.

The OUUMC is planning to start its renovations and new construction in early June of this year, and the Church’s contractor told Rester that the project would take approximately 18 months of construction to complete. If everything goes according to plan, the Church will be finished with its renovations by the end of 2018 and be fully operational by 2019.

During the renovations and construction, some of the Sunday school classrooms as well as all of the Church’s office spaces will be moved to two houses that the Church’s own that are located across 10th street. The other Sunday school classes will be broken up into different places in the gymnasium. The Church will still have Sunday worship services and weddings in the Sanctuary.

Rester is looking forward to the renovations and what it will be to the OUUMC and the community around it.

“It’s been exciting for me as pastor to watch the plans grow, to watch the congregation get excited about it, and what we want to do is as a Church is give our facilities away and so we’re already open for AA groups, NA groups, Leapfrog, we have boy scout groups that meet here and all sorts of groups from the University that use our facility.” Rester said.

For more information regarding the Church’s renovations and new construction, go to their website at www.ouumc.org or call their office at 662-234-5278.

Logan Frost is a senior broadcast major at Meek School of Journalism and New Media. He can be reached at lcfrost@go.olemiss.edu.

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