Chestnut Level Presbyterian Church receives 2021 C. Emlen Urban Award

Hammel Associates Architects is proud to announce that our project at the Chestnut Level Presbyterian Church has earned the Historic Preservation Trust of Lancaster County 2021 C. Emlen Urban Award for Preservation as an excellent example of adaptively reusing a historic church building for use as a modern worship space, while respecting and retaining the original historic character, a challenge that is facing many historic Lancaster County churches today.

This project began with a feasibility study and schematic design, exploring options, to expand and simplify the existing sanctuary to allow greater flexibility during worship. Those options led to a project that included a comprehensive renovation of their existing sanctuary, which was completed in time for a celebratory service on Easter Sunday.

The two additions flanking the main entry provide a fully accessible restroom and a mother’s room. The additions were constructed of locally sourced field stone to match the existing historic masonry and included an authentic slate roof. Original stained glass windows were removed from the side facades of the entry to create new door openings, and relocated to the exterior of the new additions to preserve the character of the original church, while simultaneously providing the necessary privacy within the new spaces.

The sanctuary renovation, completed in collaboration with Arthur Funk & Sons, Inc., retained the existing pews, restored the original dramatic painted ceiling and re-opened the choir loft while completely re-designing the chancel area. The original chancel design featured multiple levels and built in elements which severely limited the use of the space. By providing an accessible, open and flexible space, the church is able to incorporate a variety of worship styles, musical groups and other performances, while remaining within their beloved church sanctuary.