Old Hector Church Gets New Life
Two weeks ago Bill Coppard bought the former North Hector Baptist Church in Valois. He has had his eye on the deserted church for some time, as he drives by on his way home to Caywood. He put on a new metal roof on the 19th century building before he'd even closed on the property.
The church, which was built in 1877, has not been used for anything other than storage for several years. Coppard, who founded and ran the Little Theatre in Rochester until his retirement, plans to use the sanctuary as a space for music performances, screening films, holding weddings and he would like to open a seasonal restaurant. He intends to open an art gallery in an 800-square foot room on the second floor.
There is a dropped ceiling over the sanctuary that Coppard will remove to expose the pressed tin roof above it. He will also have the hardwood floor refinished. The piano in the corner is, for some reason, still more or less in tune.
The church was last renovated in 1962, according to Coppard.
Because he wants to have large-scale events in the building, Coppard has already had much of the old kitchen removed. He described it as essentially a large home kitchen; he will be installing a commercial facility. The building is cleared for occupancy by 100 until he decides whether or not to put in a sprinkler system.
"By midsummer I think it will be in pretty good shape," he said of the building. "I would like to find someone to run a good seasonal restaurant. I think it should be a bistro that serves to 11 p.m. There are a lot of people who visit, do the wine trail, and then want to rest in the afternoon. Now they have to wake up and scramble for someplace to eat before all the restaurants close."
The former theater owner would like to show small films that have been made in digital media and haven't been transferred to 35-millimeter film, which he said was an expensive process. Coppard is an inveterate jazz fan and would love to host concerts that feature his favorite style of music, but is very much open to whatever local promoters suggest.
The Caywood resident would like to see the commercial sector of Valois rehabilitated. "These villages and hamlets like Valois are being neglected," he said. "I'd like to be the one to do something with this church and then have someone else say, 'Well, he fixed that up. Let's do something with this building next to it.'"By Bill Chaisson
3/31/2010 1:45:00 PM