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Former churches on the LI market offer heavenly property potential

In the case of this $23.5 million listing

In the case of this $23.5 million listing in Sag Harbor, converting the former Sag Harbor United Methodist Church into a home provides an opportunity to create architectural features not allowed by modern building code. Credit: The Corcoran Group

With no fewer than five church buildings currently on the market across Long Island, buyers have opportunities to live or work in former houses of worship filled with historic features, grand rooms and dramatic architecture.

Some are already converted for living, while others give buyers the opportunity to do it themselves with their own vision.

Agent Kristy Naddell, who is listing the former Greenport United Methodist Church, recently worked on the sale of the Southold United Methodist Church for $1.025 million to the Long Island Opera Company, which plans to build an opera house and camp. Southold is one of three United Methodist churches -- Cutchogue and Greenport are the others -- to go on the market recently, says Naddell. The three parishes formed North Fork United Methodist Church, which currently holds services in Cutchogue; the centralized parish is designed to serve all of Southold Town.

"It's a very positive thing," she says. "Some people are asking, 'Why are they selling off all the churches?" [It's] because you don't need a Methodist church in every town anymore."


In the case of the 6,700-square-foot Greenport United Methodist Church, there are a multitude of options for the centrally located property, where services were held from 1890 through this June.

Kristy Naddell of Douglas Elliman Real Estate, who is marketing the property, says that the house of worship on this 0.76-acre parcel, currently on the market for $1.995 million, has "a lot of the artsy, historic kind of stuff that people love out here." That includes a working church bell and a "magnificent sanctuary" with a working organ and a balcony area.

The church is situated in a "floating" residential zone in the heart of Greenport, Naddell says, allowing for flexibility in finding a use. Southold Town approvals would be needed for a non-single-family residential use.

"Our thought is that some developer can put apartments or condominiums in there," she says. Already, a "wide array of investors" have perused the property, Naddell says.

A "beautiful" 2,200-square-foot parsonage with four bedrooms, a bathroom and half-bath, as well as a porch and wood floors would make an ideal home, she says, while the church itself could become a bed-and-breakfast, a hotel, a restaurant or even a funeral home if not condominiums. The two buildings must be sold together, she says.

"You have the Main Street exposure, but you have that classic kind of historic look to the building," she says. "So if they can make something cool out of it and great for the town, then it would be a very interesting transition."

Listing agents: Kristy Naddell (561-312-6219) and Tom Uhlinger (516-319-0323), Douglas Elliman Real Estate


In the case of this $23.5 million listing in Sag Harbor, converting the former Sag Harbor United Methodist Church into a home provides an opportunity to create architectural features not allowed by modern building code.

The village limits new construction on such parcels to 32 feet high. But since this circa 1836 structure predates village code, it is grandfathered in so that a 50-foot-tall, 13,000-square-foot luxury home on 0.45 acres can be built. It is scheduled for completion next year.

"It's a very dramatic and a large structure you couldn't have normally on that piece of property," says listing agent Gary DePersia of The Corcoran Group.

Former Southampton Town Councilman Dennis Suskind, who sold to designer Elizabeth Dow in 2012, previously owned the property, which was a church for 172 years before the sale in 2008. He had planned to make it a home. Dow, who was planning to convert the space for her textile, mixed-media and wallcovering business, sold to entrepreneur Sloan Schaffer in 2013, who began working toward creating a residence by getting the proper permits.

The home, which was designed by the Sag Harbor architectural firm of Bates Masi, is being built by Lettieri Construction and landscaped by Gregg Bleam Landscape Architect. When completed, it will have three levels of living space with six bedrooms, 10 bathrooms, views of Sag Harbor, a gunite in-ground pool and an indoor spa.

Listing agent: Gary DePersia, The Corcoran Group, 516-380-0538.


For those looking to convert a church into a home, this Glen Cove building, listed with Paul Mateyunas of Daniel Gale Sotheby's International Realty, gives the buyer that opportunity.

The circa 1931 church, designed by Oheka Castle architects Delano & Aldrich, was built on 0.48 acres by the First Church of Christ, Scientist and is on the market for $599,000 as the church consolidates into a single building, Mateyunas says.

Classic Delano touches can be found in the lighting fixtures, moldings and staircase banisters in the almost 5,000-square-foot structure, which also includes large windows. The church's sanctuary is ideal for being converted into a living room, says Mateyunas.

"It's sort of different," he adds. "It's not your average home."

Listing agent: Paul Mateyunas, Daniel Gale Sotheby's International Realty, 516-816-0301.


At this $4.3 million four-bedroom Old Westbury house, with four bathrooms and a half-bath, the heavy lifting of converting a church is done.

Built around the former chapel of former Union Army general and New York Gov. Edwin D. Morgan's 1,600-acre estate, the original house of worship was incorporated in 1998 into the design of the 5,860-square-foot home, which is situated on 1.5 acres and designed by architect Stanford White, says Daniel Gale's Frances Covello, one of the listing agents.

"The front of the home still maintains the monastery arches and the bell tower," Covello says. "The chapel is really as it was in the day. That's the owners' great room."

The home also retains a portion of the network of underground passages used to connect key buildings on the former estate, as well as stained glass windows salvaged when the Hotel Normandie in Manhattan was torn down in the 1920s, Covello says.

First-floor rooms include a library, dining room, living room, kitchen and sunroom with high-end appliances, a pantry, an art studio and a half-bath. Among four bedrooms and three bathrooms on the second floor is the master bedroom suite wing, which has his-and-hers bathrooms and a walk-in closet.

Modern amenities include a full home generator, video surveillance systems and two charging stations for electric cars. A choir loft is used as a media room, and the basement contains a gym, music studio and a 1,200-bottle wine cellar.

You can also sharpen your golf stroke on a putting green and improve your breast stroke in a 20-by-40-foot saltwater swimming pool equipped with green heating and saline filtration systems. When the trees shed their leaves, there's a winter water view.

Listing agents: Frances Covello, 516-359-7779, and Marie DeVivo, 516-660-8371, Daniel Gale Sotheby's International Realty


Christ Covenant Church in Copiague gives a creative buyer an opportunity to create a unique living space from a historic religious building.

On the market for $399,000, the building was first the Copiague Union Church in 1896. Christ Covenant Church bought the building in 1990, says the Rev. Brian L. Penney, the church's pastor since 2002. The church had initially planned to merge with another congregation and keep the building, Penney says, but those plans fell through, precipitating the sale.

The church, which is about 3,000 square feet, is equipped with two half-baths and a kitchen; the 30-by-50-foot fellowship hall has wood floors and a full basement below that was formerly a preschool. The sanctuary, which seats 100, and the roof and siding were renovated in the mid-2000s.

Converting the home to a single-family residence would require no zone change because it is already zoned residential, Babylon Town officials have said. Subdividing the 15,000-square-foot, L-shaped lot would require Zoning Board of Appeals approval for setback variance.

Listing agent: Rob Scarito, Douglas Elliman Real Estate, 631-858-6932


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