Pliny Reynolds told the Historic Preservation Board this evening that he and his wife, Melanie Kratovll, who own the Washington Avenue restaurant Terlingua, have purchased the former church at 140 Congress Street with the intention of converting the former sanctuary into a hostel. The couple and their children will live in the section behind the hostel – formerly the church parsonage for the minister and his family. Melanie will run the hostel.
Reynolds, a former architect for Whole Foods, told the Board that he and his wife are “struggling to be able to stay in the neighborhood” and so they purchased the former Methodist church that abuts the historic Observatory. There have been previous purchasers who had to sell the property because of limitations on its use due to its proximity to the historic Observatory, a National Historic Landmark and locally-designated landmark structure.
The project calls for removal of the steeple, renovation of the Congress Street facade and northeast elevation and the introduction of skylights on both roof planes. Reynolds, representing himself rather than hiring another architect, said the existing vinyl siding will be replaced with new clapboard siding. The entire entry will be replaced with a new door flanked by wider full-length sidelights according to the proposal. No name has been selected for the hostel, but whatever it is will probably be placed on the front of the building.
“We are very pleased that Pliny and Melanie purchased the property and are excited about their plans for the house and former church building. Finding a use for these structures next door to a popular tourist site that received over 17,000 visitors between May and October last year is a challenge! We think he proposed use is a good fit for the site, for the Munjoy Hill neighborhood and we believe the project will be a good neighbor to our favorite historic landmark,” wrote Julie Larry, Director of Advocacy for Greater Portland Landmdarks.
This was Reynolds first appearance before the Historic Preservation board and there will be more.