MIDDLETOWN, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — A 165-year-old historic church in Monmouth County, New Jersey, is up for sale in a church-to-home conversion.
CBS2’s Charlie Cooper went inside the religious landmark that virtually anyone can get their hands on.
Nestled in Middletown is a 3,300-square-foot sanctuary of carefully crafted stained glass windows and warm oak dressing the insides. Navesink United Methodist Church has been a community staple since 1854.
“People have long family histories here. They were baptized here or their parents had their funeral services here and it goes back for some people many generations,” parishioner Steve Legrice said.
Typically open on Sundays, it’s now open to buyers willing to pay the $650,000 listing price to call the church home their own.
The congregation, which has seen a drop in numbers over the last three years, merged with Atlantic Highlands United Methodist Church and has moved there.
“We’re consolidating in our other building, which we feel better suited for our work in the community,” Legrice said.
Because the church sits in a historic district, anyone who wants to make changes to it has to go before the Middletown Landmarks Commission for approval.
The commission provides guidance on how to maintain the historic integrity of the property and the neighborhood.
The buyer will be allowed to change anything except the stained glass windows and the exterior of the church.
“We’re hoping to get that right marriage of people who have a sensitivity to the history of it but will use it and get a lot of use out of it,” said Gerry Scharfenberger, with the Middletown Landmarks Commission.
Right now, five families are eyeing the space in hopes of making this house of worship their home.
The Landmarks Commission says it has become more common in the area for churches to be bought and transformed into other usable spaces like offices and event venues.