Nacul Center, exterior

Once known as Wesley Chapel, the Nacul Center stands testament to the fact that reusing buildings preserves the historic fabric of a town while breathing new life into old structures. Architect Tullio Inglese and his wife Judith rescued the building from demolition in 1972, purchasing it to serve as their home and studio. Mr. Inglese eventually converted the building into office and studio space, with an art gallery on the lower level.

Renovations of the building were preceded with a lot of clean-up — broken stained glass windows were repaired and, in some cases, replaced with clear glass; numerous pigeon droppings and animal skeletons were removed from the bell tower; discarded trash and weeds were cleared from the property. A suspended ceiling built by the building’s previous owners was removed to uncover two magnificent arches and two round stained glass windows.

In time, living quarters — later to become offices — were built on the first floor, and ceramic and architectural studios on the second. On the uppermost level several lofts were built, including a north and south loft connected by a bridge. Essentially, an entirely new building was built within the shell of the old. This enabled Mr. Inglese to insulate the walls and improve the electrical and plumbing systems while preserving the masterfully built exterior.

Knowledge of the building’s history has given Tullio Inglese a great appreciation of its value and the importance of its preservation. Penned in regional conference minutes are words which reflect a communal endeavor and trust in God’s guidance and provision:

Considerable prosperity has attended us and the summons to ‘arise and build’ appears to be addressed to us from on high…God’s hand was seen every step of the way. Every dollar of the money came from faith and prayer.

On occasion, older members of the community have stopped in and recalled the time when, as children, they attended Sunday sermons at Wesley Chapel and played in the front yard. Appreciation of the building as a sacred place, coupled with his awareness that its construction was not a casual undertaking, Mr. Inglese is glad to have done his part to preserve its legacy.