November 28, 2021

Little White Church work beginning later

It will be several months before the Little White Church Community Center opens its doors to Homer residents because the architectural plan will be handed in later than expected, delaying construction.

“I think we’re probably going to shoot for Easter now,” Mayor Darren “Hal” McCabe said late last week. “There’s no way they’d get it done in time for anything this Christmas.”

The plan is to use the church as a community center where plays, concerts, weddings, lectures and other events could be.

Syracuse-based Crawford & Stearns Architects and Preservation Planners was awarded the contract to begin limited rehabilitation of the church by the village board last summer.

The design and construction documents will cost the village $7,900. Another $6,500 was estimated for the bid and construction phases based on an hourly rate.

The company had originally assessed the church, but “not in staggering detail” and the architectural study was meant to provide a better scope of the work that needs to be done, said Randall Crawford, the principal for Crawford & Stearns.

The plans were expected to be handed in within eight weeks, so construction would be finished by early December. Everything has been pushed back now, McCabe said.

Crawford said the plans will be finished by midNovember.

“Everybody has been busy,” he said. “The village people have been busy and they’ve had to review some of the stuff.”

He said bidding is expected to take place in the middle of winter for spring construction.
The company has also worked with the village in the past on projects, including the Phillips Free Library, Crawford said.

The services included:

  • Drawings and details for new concrete front steps with metal handrails.
  • Drawings and details for new rear ramp made with wood and metal handrails.
  • Running cable across the church roof to keep ends of the roof rafters from spreading outward.
  • Investigating the north exterior wall of the sanctuary to identify the possible source of cracking on the interior of the wall.
  • Drawings and details of new wooden steps with metal hand railings down from the east-facing link between the buildings once the ramp is removed.
  • Recommendations for repair and protection of the church window where the ramp is to be removed.
  • Inspection and comment on the tower if it is accessible.

The state approved the village taking ownership of the building last year. The village acquired it at no cost from the PCA Church New Hope Presbyterian of Vestal, but had to sign a 99-year lease for $1 for the land with the First Religious Society of Homer. The village also agreed to pay legal fees.

The village’s plan was to give ownership of the church to another entity. The Landmark Society showed interest, but McCabe said neither the society nor Center for the Arts had the funding to maintain the church.

McCabe said the funding for the projects will come from reserve accounts and the village’s building maintenance fund.

The church, built in 1832, is the oldest structure on the Village Green.