Douglaston church opens cottage doors

The Community Church of Douglaston will hold an open house for its recently renovated cottage Oct. 15. Photo by Rich Bockmann
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Thank God for that old-growth wood.

Not since 1930 had the Community Church of Douglaston’s cottage served as its parsonage, but after a recent top-down renovation the building is once again being called home by the pastor and ready to serve the church community.

Architect Kevin Wolfe, who is also a member of the Douglaston/Little Neck Historical Society, said the oldest part of the cottage dates back to the 1850s. It went through two renovations and eventually fell out of use in the earlier part of the 20th century. In the meantime, the pastor lived in a small building owned by the church in Douglas Manor until that was sold and the church rented an apartment.

All that started to change last year, when the current pastor, the Rev. Linden DeBie, was visiting the church.

“I was taking a tour and walking the grounds, and I noticed it adjacent to the church — not far at all,” DeBie said.

He paused and thought it was in terrible shape, but could see its potential.

“I thought it was ideal. It was quaint, perfect and right on the grounds,” he said.

The church agreed to renovate the building for DeBie, and that is where Wolfe came in. When he and his team demolished the interior of the cottage, the framing was revealed and he noticed something interesting.

“There was a big fire at some point. All the interior woodwork was burnt,” he said. “No one at the church, though, remembers the fire.”

Wolfe’s structural engineer told him the fire did minimal damage to the building’s frame because it was built of old-growth wood that had been cut down before the area’s forests were harvested.

“It’s known as extremely tough for its fire resistance,” he said.

Wolfe’s plan was to make the interior more contemporary with an open floor plan between the kitchen and the dining room — a suitable space for DeBie to welcome the church community.

“It seems like the ideal place to best serve both the church and the community,” he said.

On Sat., Oct. 15, the church will hold an open house from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., when visitors can tour the church grounds, visit the cottage and see the newly restored organ.

The event is co-sponsored by the historical society, and Wolfe said he hopes the building will help persuade the city Landmarks Preservation Commission to extend the Douglaston Historic District to include the church.

“It’s another little gem that helps,” he said.

Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at rbockmann@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4574.

Posted 2:08 pm, October 6, 2011
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