Church and Others Disagree Over What to Do with Historic House

Trinity Presbyterian Church continues to add new members. "We need to grow. Our facilities need to grow," says John Steiner Co-Chairman of the church building committee.

A house next door, the Rouse House with its historic designation, literally stands in the way. Steiner says, The only viable way is to go north. It involves the removal of the house that is due north."

That idea worries some Garden District homeowners intent on historic preservation. "Our neighborhood is made up of people who live in homes and to lose another one would destroy the fabric of our neighborhood," says Diane Beeson.

Beeson is with "The Friends of the Rouse House." She supports the church's expansion, but not at the expense of the Rouse House which the church owns. She says, "They, like the rest of us who bought homes in this neighborhood, knew when they bought a historically designated home there were certain things they had to do."

Rather than tearing it down, some have suggested moving the house. Steiner says, "If we could find the appropriate lot, and get it moved, touchdown for everybody."

If not, the church says it has no choice but to tear down the home. "If nobody wants it, we still have a problem," says Steiner.

"We would just ask that they honor their commitment to the history of Montgomery and the Garden District," says Beeson.

The Garden District Preservation Association also supports the church's growth, but wants to see the house preserved. The Architecture Review Board hoped the two sides could find common ground. The board could take action tomorrow or decide to delay.

The church is willing to give the Rouse House to anyone who wants to move it. Trinity Church says it will help pay some of the moving costs.