Buddhist meditation center interested in buying Sound Avenue church

The former First Parish Church in Northville is up for sale, but a potential sympathetic buyer hopes to take it off the market soon.

The Long Island Buddhist Meditation Center has confirmed interest in buying the property, at the corner of Sound Avenue and Church Lane, with an eye toward preservation. 

“We want to preserve this gorgeous piece of history on the East End,” said Don Jayamaha of Mattituck, treasurer of LIBMC. 

He also said that LIBMC would like the congregation that currently worships there, Community Baptist Church, to remain. The meditation center, which is directly across the street, will not move into the church, according to Mr. Jayamaha, but does wish to preserve it.

He said they are currently negotiating with the United Church of Christ, which owns the building.

The church, originally organized in 1829, erected its first building in Aquebogue in 1832. It moved to Sound Avenue in 1834, to a building that was later used as a Grange Hall. That building is currently the meditation center, which opened its doors there in March 2017.

A new church was built across the street in 1859. It later burned down and another building followed. That church also burned, in 1901, and was replaced by the current structure, known then as Sound Avenue Congregational Church, in 1904.

That building sits on .68 acres and received town historic landmark status in 1981, which is designed to protect its exterior appearance, according to local historian Richard Wines.

Mr. Wines also said the 1904 church was designed by a Brooklyn architect and built by local carpenters.

“It was kind of the latest thing in church architecture when it was designed, with its two towers and Gothic look,” he said.

In 1860, after the church relocated, Grange Hall became a school, the Northville Academy, Mr. Wines told the News-Review in 2014. The space later became a community center for local farmers who belonged to the National Grange, a nonprofit that advocates for rural America.

The auditorium in the church is set up in a semicircle, with the floor sloping down toward the main stage, surround by original stained-glass windows. The interior is lined with thousands of small diamond-shaped wooden shingles, all with the original varnish.

“It’s certainly historically significant given the history of the congregation, and it’s architecturally significant,” Mr. Wines said. 

The town’s Landmark Preservation Commission maintains a watch list of properties to make sure historically significant buildings are preserved.

“We want to make sure it winds up in good hands,” he added.

Listing agent Sherry Patterson of Tuccio Real Estate in Riverhead said that there was an accepted offer, but the property is not officially sold yet because there is no contract.

“Hopefully everything goes well,” Mr. Jayamaha said. “We are negotiating with the UCC. I’m pretty confident right now that we can come to some sort of agreement with them.”

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Photo caption: The church at the corner of Church Lane and Sound Avenue in Northville is up for sale. The former First Parish Church was declared a town landmark in 1981. (Rachel Siford photo)