One of Hockessin’s oldest churches is getting a facelift, expanding its footprint, and beautifying the downtown Hockessin area in the process.
On Sunday, June 3, the Hockessin United Methodist Church on Lancaster Pike held a groundbreaking celebration for the start of their new two-story building and sanctuary updates.
According to church communications director Cyndy Brown, the church owns the land that the Odd Fellows Building on Rt. 41 used to sit on many years ago.
The plan is to use that property as well as land behind the current sanctuary to build their new amenities.
“Through a three-year capital Campaign, we have raised a significant amount of money to begin construction and forever change the landscape of Route 41,” Brown said. “This is important news in the Hockessin area.”
The church originally acquired the Odd Fellows building in 2010, with plans to expand its building footprint and its parking lot.
The entrance will also be modified to allow people to drive directly up to the main doors, and the bathrooms will also be revamped.
Those plans have evolved to include new sanctuary renovations, increased parking spaces, and a new building for church offices and Odd Fellows meeting place.
Pastor Rob Townsend said the administration is excited to make the whole campus accessible to everyone.
“That’s really what it’s all about,” Townsend said.
According to church youth directors Carl and Laura Immediato, the project is expected to cost between $2.2 and $2.6 million, with roughly $400,000 left to raise.
In order to lock in variances obtained from New Castle County, new construction must begin by Dec. 3, 2019, according to the fund raising brochure, although construction will likely begin well before that deadline.
In December 2016, 93 percent of the congregation voted to move forward with the expansion, provided the gap between funds pledged through a capital campaign and the cost of the project were not in excess of $1 million.
“The congregation is pretty excited,” Laura Immediato said. “It’s been a long time coming.”
The expansion is not the only thing happening at the 125-year-old church.
Recently two Hockessin teens presented a plan to install a new sign for the church, highlighting the Old Lancaster Pike entrance, as part of their Silver Award project.
Although there is no timeline in place yet for the sign project, it has met with both the Greater Hockessin Area Development Association and the Design Architecture Review Board’s approval, and will be paid for by donations and in-kind contributions.
According to the website, the church dates back to 1881, when it was started in an old blacksmith shop in the former Brackenville area.
The permanent chapel was constructed in 1882, with a fellowship hall added in 1949.
The church first purchased the old Odd Fellows 1.1 acre property in 2008, when plans for the expansion first came to light.
“It’s been a very long process,” Carl Immediato said.
The church maintains a number of religious and social missions, both locally and abroad, as well as maintaining a clothing closet for people in need.
For more information about the church, its programs, and the expansion, visit hockessinumc.org.