Out with old, in with new
by DAVID DAVIS, Managing Editor
Feb 05, 2013 | 2497 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Heavy equipment demolishes the old J.C. Penney building Monday to make way for a new communications building for Lee University. A timeline for construction has not been released by the university.  Banner photo, DAVID DAVIS
Heavy equipment demolishes the old J.C. Penney building Monday to make way for a new communications building for Lee University. A timeline for construction has not been released by the university. Banner photo, DAVID DAVIS
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Lee University is moving forward with integrating the old First Baptist Church properties into its campus footprint. The first step is demolition of the annex building that was once J.C. Penney, Woolworth’s and Cole’s Drug Store, a small drive-in bank building on North Ocoee Street and the aging Corn Apartments on Church Street.

Also on the schedule for eventual demolition are various small houses between the core of the Lee campus and the new construction.

A portion of the annex will continue as the adult learning center and online education unit.

The plan includes renovation of the main First Baptist sanctuary building into a music performance hall, construction of a new communications building and demolition of the old retail building to make way for lawns and “green space.”

Key to the new development was a major gift of property and cash from Allan and Janie Jones. The amount of the gift was not revealed, but it was large enough for the First Baptist sanctuary to be renamed “Pangle Hall” in honor of Janie Jones, Allan’s wife.

The opening of both the new music hall and the academic building is scheduled for fall 2014, according to past reports.

The exterior of the old First Baptist Church on Church Street and Central Avenue will remain essentially unchanged. The main exception is removal of the steeple and it being replaced with a cupola, which will more faithfully reflect an academic style.

Two other parts of the former First Baptist building function as a campus child care center and as additional classroom space for one of the university’s departments.

Lee University purchased the First Baptist Church in June 2010 for $5 million after the congregation moved to its new site on Stuart Road.