Lesley restores and recycles the old North Prospect Church
Friday, May 23, 2014
Still, the university had those things and more as the time approached to break ground on the $48 million Lunder Arts Center project. What to do?
“We could always have shipped it out to a landfill, that would have been a no-brainer,” jokes Bill Hoyt, Lesley’s director of procurement and cost containment. However, that approach would have been antithetical to the university’s commitment to sustainability and, Hoyt notes, “We always think of things that way.”
At the heart of the Lunder Arts Center project is the former North Prospect Church, which the university lowered and moved about 100 feet down Massachusetts Avenue on the way to the façade’s restoration. As part of that plan, the university found as many homes as possible for the venerable church’s furnishings.
According to Hoyt, the church sold the chandeliers to a reseller, sent the scrap metal to a scrap iron dealer (“We persuaded them to take out this enormous boiler,” says Hoyt, some sweet-talking that saved Lesley thousands of dollars), and sold many of the pews to a church in Texas. And one Lone Star State newlyweds used a few of the pews in their outdoors wedding.
Closer to home, Lesley will be reusing the majority of the former church’s stained-glass windows in the new Lunder Arts Center complex, while other furnishings were put to use by Centre Street Sanctuary, a tavern and restaurant in Boston’s Jamaica Plain section.
“They were essential to the build of the place,” says tavern owner Adam Rutstein, explaining that his business’s church motif stems from its location on the site of the former Blessed Sacrament Church rectory. Rutstein consulted the website UsedPews.com (“You cannot make this up,” he says.) and bought the items for $1,800. The old lectern is his restaurant’s host station and 14 pews were resurrected as banquettes. The choir box? “My contractor took one look at it and said, ‘That’s your bar,’” Rutstein says. (Strictly speaking, it’s the bar’s façade: the bar top is a door from a different former church.)
But the piece de resistance was the music-maker, an Aeolian-Skinner pipe organ purchased by another Texas house of worship, the Houston-area Cypress Creek Christian Church and Community Center. The organ is now in Oregon, undergoing a $700,000 restoration, though church choral librarian John Gordley, chair of the fundraising task force, said the price is a bargain compared to the $1.5 million a new pipe organ would have cost the church, which doubles as a public concert hall.
While the Lunder Arts Center will be a nexus for the arts, both at Lesley as well as in Cambridge and beyond, it also speaks to the university’s commitment to sustainability and responsible stewardship of the planet.
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