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Noyes Museum of Art building to be reborn as the new LifePoint Church later this year
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Noyes Museum of Art building to be reborn as the new LifePoint Church later this year

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Pastor Wayne Gillis and Paula Gillis new version of the Lifepoint Church on W. Washington Avenue in Pleasantville is being built at the site of the former Noyes Museum of Art in Galloway Township

GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP — The Noyes Museum of Art in the Oceanville section, near the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge, served for decades as a place of creative and artistic enlightenment.

Later this year, the building makes the transition to a house of spiritual enlightenment when LifePoint Church begins to relocate from its location on West Washington Avenue in Pleasantville to the structure on Lily Lake Road.

“We are really excited about this new property,” said Wayne Gillis, senior pastor with his wife, Paula, of LifePoint Church. “The church has continued to grow. We needed more room. We needed to be able to expand, so we have 7 acres total of property. We will have a larger parking facility and a larger overall building.”

The church’s current Pleasantville location is three-fourth of an acre at most, Gillis said. The Pleasantville church building is about 14,500 square feet. The Noyes Museum building is about the same square footage as the Pleasantville building, but over a footprint that is twice as large, the pastor said.

In 2019, Wayne Gillis started to look for a new location for his church and its 180 regularly attending members. The only building he saw online that he liked was the Noyes Museum of Art. He sent up an appointment with a real estate agent to see the building in person, and he fell in love with it.

Architect Fred W. Noyes Jr., who developed the Historic Smithville Inn and the Towne of Historic Smithville, led the construction of the Noyes Museum in memory of his then late wife, Ethel L. Noyes, who died in 1979. The Noyes Museum opened to the public on June 12, 1983.

By 2015, the 32-year-old building needed hundreds of thousands of dollars of renovations, including a new HVAC system, and it could no longer safely store its art. In 2016, The Mr. and Mrs. Fred Winslow Noyes Foundation transferred ownership to the Stockton University Foundation in Pomona, and the building was closed in January of that year.

LifePoint closed on its purchase of the building in December 2019. LifePoint is part of the United Pentecostal Church International organization.

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Before being slowed down by the COVID-19 pandemic, work was done on the roof, Wayne Gillis said. There was an exterior paint job, landscaping and some site prep work, he said.

The hope is that a temporary sanctuary will be finished inside the already-existing Noyes building by this fall, Gillis said. The current plan is to use both the Noyes and the Pleasantville buildings this fall, he said. A permanent sanctuary will be a part of an addition that will be added to the main building with a scheduled completion of September 2022, he said.

“We want to keep the integrity of the building, the openness,” said Paula Gillis, who added the back deck area will stay the same, and hopefully, picnics can take place there after services. “We hope to keep some of the gardens.”

The church’s West Washington Avenue building is up for sale, Wayne Gillis said.

LifePoint Church appeared before the township’s planning board for preliminary and final site plan approval in October.

Councilman and former mayor Anthony Coppola serves on the planning board. He voted to approve the church’s final site plan for the Noyes Museum. His father served on the Noyes Museum’s board.

“It’s bittersweet. It’s a beautiful building with a lot of historic significance,” said Coppola, who added no one could tear down the museum and build something new from scratch on the property because of the Forsythe Wildlife Refuge. “To have it operate as a museum would have been the ultimate goal. ... On the other hand, that property was on sale for a long time, and nobody bid on it.”

Updates to the LifePoint Church construction inside the former Noyes Museum can be found at — lifepointnj.org.

Contact Vincent Jackson: 609-272-7202

vjackson@pressofac.com

Twitter@ACPressJackson

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