Commission approves COA for St. John’s future rectory for priests

Published 8:30 am Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Plans for St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church’s new rectory have finally received the Historic Preservation Commission’s stamp of approval after coming to a stall last month.

St. John’s has designs to build a modified, southern-style home on church property that will accommodate its house parish priests. However, the plans were met with concern from the commissioners who had issues with the style and structure. 

Commissioners requested St. John update their roof plans and provide a design for functional  windows rather than the fake windows shown in their original plans.

Representatives from the church returned on Tuesday afternoon with updated designs to elevations, roofing and windows and were met with approval from the commissioners.

“We appreciate you listening to our comments,” said Chairwoman Joli Nichols. 

“It’s a big improvement over last month,” said Commissioner Joel Little echoing Nichols’ sentiments.

Commissioners also took issue with the style of the rectory. According to Historic Preservationist Kate Kenwright, the structure will be more in the style of a Carolinas’ coastal home than the Victorian, Colonial Revival and bungalow-style residences in the North Lamar Historic District. 

It is the commission’s job to preserve the character of historic districts and make sure new structures contribute to the districts by respecting the location, design and materials, and character-defining elements. However, certain elements are not always compatible with older structures.

“The design guidelines caution that a new building should be seen as a product of its own time,” said Kenwright. “To reproduce a historic building or to copy exactly a style from the past creates a false sense of history. By relating to the existing buildings of its environment and relating to its own time, a building shows a district’s evolution just as the existing building shows its past.”

Although the rectory will not be in the same style, Kenwright states that the changes made by St. John will allow the rectory to be harmonious with the buildings surrounding it.

HPC members unanimously approved the Certificate of Appropriateness requested by St. John. The church has a time limit of one year for the implementation of any COA granted by HPC.