Falmouth Foreside church plans expansion

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FALMOUTH — The Episcopal Church of Saint Mary the Virgin at 43 Foreside Road hopes to soon expand its parish hall.

The church went before the Planning Board last week for the first sketch plan review for a proposed partial demolition and expansion of the existing parish hall. The work would increase the building’s space by 1,300 square feet.

“We’ve been working for some time on a strategic vision for the parish,” said Hugh Smith, a parishioner who has been active in the church’s expansion plans.

Smith said that because the church building was constructed in three stages, there are awkward spaces and rooms inaccessible except by walking through other rooms.

The plan is to tear down the most recently built wing of the church and build an addition on the other side of the building, closest to Foreside Road. The new space will include classrooms, a cellar for storage, a small chapel and multi-purpose room.

“The whole building has drainage and water and mildew issues,” Smith said. “We’ll solve those problems as part of this plan.”

The foundation will be sealed off and a runoff treatment system will be installed, he said.

The plan will also include the addition of an elevator, which will make the building fully accessible to handicapped people, add insulation and a new sprinkler system.

One of the hurdles the church must overcome is approval of a conditional use application currently pending before the Zoning Board of Appeals,. Churches are considered a conditional use in the resource conservation zone, where this church is located.

Another hurdle is funding. Smith said his group has been working on a capital campaign and has raised $2 million in pledges. He did not know how much the group would have to raise, because the project is still in the design phase. The church has chosen Portland-based Scott Simons Architects and South Portland-based Ledgewood Construction for the project.

St. Mary’s has seen an increase in parishioners over the past few years and has expanded its mission as it has grown.

Smith said the Rev. Canon James Dalton-Thompson, who died a year ago, was responsible for much of that growth.

“His leadership style attracted a lot of people,” Smith said. “He basically walked on water.”

The church reached out to the community as a result of that leadership, Smith said, and now has become more visible, offering free community meals, space for recovery and support groups to meet, and more Christian education programs for young people.

Smith said the new design will not change the character of the building, which is a fixture in Falmouth.

“We love the building ourselves,” he said.

Emily Parkhurst can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or eparkhurst@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter: @emilyparkhurst.

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The Episcopal Church of St. Mary the Virgin, 43 Foreside Road in Falmouth, plans to add a chapel, classroom and office space, while fixing some drainage issues that have plagued the building.

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