140 Congress Street to be Converted to Undetermined Use

140 Congress Street on Munjoy Hill in Portland.

This afternoon this blogger met the new owner of the former First Free Methodist Church, located at 140 Congress Street, on the Hill. His name is John Lendzion. Mr. Lendzion said he hasn’t determined yet how the building will be used in the future. But it won’t be a church! Because the former church is located next to the historic Observatory, there are restrictions as to what can be done with the 140 Congress Street.

He lives in Portland, although he is from Vermont. A pair of skiii rested against one of the walls in the foyer of the former church as though confirming his Vermont origins.

According to the city, Lendzion has been issued two permits. One is to demolish the interior of the building which is on-going. (As one reader pointed out to this blogger, in an email, how can a historic building get a building permit to “demolish” the interior of the building – apparently the church part of the building is not historic).

The other is a change of use permit. That has not been completed because, as written above, the future use of the building has not been decided. Several neighbors have speculated that it will be a bed and breakfast, a bar or a hostel.

Back on August 7, 2011 this blogger attended a Sunday morning church service there and wrote a post on this blog. The parishoners were mostly from Rwanda and Burgendi. Rev. Daniel Ruiz delivered a moving ceremony that day urging everyone to “move on” despite the pain of their past.

note: pls. read the footnote herein for more information.

2 thoughts on “140 Congress Street to be Converted to Undetermined Use

  1. This building, the church, is NOT historic. Not even close. Please be sure to report that fact. The little house in the back, which has an attachment going into the sanctuary is indeed historic. The Observatory was built in 1805, completed in 1807 by Lamuel Moody. The house in back of the church was built around the same time for Captain Moody’s daughter. The house is recognized by the local Portland Landmarks organization as historic but it is not on the national register. The church has only been there since the 1960s and is of poor construction and has a lot of issues. Due to zoning regulations and the fact the church sits next to a historic structure, the new owner will not be allowed to put any large building there. That is why many people in the community have not felt any imminent threat by it. One interesting fact you may wish to know is that the addition on to the Observatory, the deck/walkway, goes over onto the property of the church by several feet, though I doubt any new owner would take issue with that. Remember there is a parking challenge there and the lot would not be large enough for a large muilti unit structure. That’s what that building has changed hands no less than four times in the last three years.

    • Thank you so much for that information. Years ago I wrote a story about the history of the building for the Munjoy Hill Observer when it existed. However, that copy has been lost and so I’ve glad you have filled this in. Carol

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