A Main Street house built in 1886 will get a facelift, some 4,500 square feet of new construction will materialize nearby, and other parts of the Rumple Memorial Presbyterian Church campus will be better purposed once the plans for a more than $5 million redevelopment project are completed, according to building committee chair John Calvin.
While renovations are already underway at The Manse, the pastor’s residence across Wallingford Street from the church, the next priority is what is now known as The Rumple House, 1200 Main Street in Blowing Rock, located between the Rumple sanctuary and the restaurant, Town Tavern.
“ADW architects of Charlotte are working on the master plan for the entire project,” said Calvin. “ADW has done a marvelous job in taking our priorities into consideration, which include blending into the surrounding neighborhood.”
In pointing out that the Rumple House was built in 1886, with various additions through the years, Calvin said that it was important for the project committee to preserve the original structure.
“We expect to remove one or more of the additions that came later, at the back of the house, because they are in really bad shape,” said Calvin. “Currently, the Rumple House is used for various meetings and two or three Sunday School classes, but we aim to repurpose it as the church’s administrative offices. That does two things. First, it provides Main Street access for visitors to our church administrative personnel, rather than through the main church.
“Second, there is an energy savings. Right now, to heat the administrative offices on the main floor, in the back, you pretty much have to heat the entire building. That is a lot of waste. This energy management model reduces our carbon footprint,” said Calvin.
The inside of Rumple House will remain unchanged, preserving the unique chestnut paneling and ceilings.
“The biggest changes will be reverting the building back as much as we can to the original footprint, reconfiguring the kitchen to a downsized version, and redesigning the rear access with a walkway to the main campus. Toward the back of the Rumple House, we will also add a unisex, handicapped accessible bathroom,” said Calvin.
The improvements to The Manse at the pastor’s residence are already underway. Rev. Kathy Beach and her family relocated recently, to allow the work to be completed.
The third priority of the project are enhancements to the existing Education Building and Keys Chapel.
“The ground floor of the Education Building will become facilities for our youth and children’s programs,” said Calvin. “And on the second floor, we are going to make a large gathering area by removing the offices and library.
The church considers Blowing Rock C.A.R.E.S. an important mission and service to the community, according to Pastor Kathy Beach.
“Blowing Rock Cares Food Pantry will have a dedicated, expanded area on the ground floor of the Keys Chapel, where the nursery is now,” said Beach. “That gives the clients easier access to the services being provided and will make it easier to manage with all of the food and supplies coming in and going out.”
Calvin said that the third-floor classrooms will be reconfigured so that one classroom is added.
“There is a lot of excitement about our plans to add new construction, about 4,500 square feet, after removing and possibly relocating what is now the youth cottage and some storage areas,” said Calvin. “This will be our new fellowship hall and it will have a full stage, a kitchen, table seating for about 150, with hi-tech audio visual and lighting options. We can even accommodate a half basketball court. This facility will be one level, and even with the roof of the existing Keys Chapel.”
Beach said that much of the impetus for the building fund was gained through a $1 million anonymous gift to the church.
“The fundraising has gained a lot of momentum from that gift,” said Beach. “Now, as our members see what is being planned, they want to be a part of it. The early priorities are addressing the things that need fixing, and that includes The Manse and Rumple House. Those are the necessities, but while we are at it there are steps to be taken that enhance our campus and even expand it for the important work of the church.”
Rumple Memorial Presbyterian Church is located at 1218 Main Street, in Blowing Rock.