Boca Grande Lighthouse United Methodist Church

Renovation Progress


 Our Office Renovation Phase 1 Is Completed

Progress Since December, 2020

Installing the Reception Counter

Painting the Interior

Painting the Interior.

Original Floor Restoration

Porch Siding Restoration

Painting the Exterior

Completed Workroom

A Welcoming Reception Area

Pastor's Office

Pastor's Office.

Phase 2 Construction Begins

Foundation is Started

Construction Begins

Initial Roofing is Completed and Interior Work Begins





The preparation work is nearly complete. We are ready to raise the building and build a raised foundation underneath (Picture 1).  As the vinyl siding was removed, we found the original siding underneath which we have saved and hope to use on the front of the office inside the restored porch. It’s interesting to see that the kitchen area was added on to the building at a later date. There is no siding on that section (Pictures 2 and 3). We also have uncovered the original interior tongue and groove walls that were hiding behind the drywall. We hope to use some of this as well in the new building (Picture 4). 


On May 4th and 5th the Building Committee and the Church Council met and authorized the beginning of the renovation to the church office.  All permitting is resolved and the contractor plans to begin on or about May 11.  All who have been involved with this project are so thankful to see us reach this point after almost three years of planning, working with commissioners and oversight boards. We are also grateful to all the generous members of the congregation who have made this possible.  In light of the current environment of hardship throughout our country and world, the church leadership has decided to pause fundraising efforts temporarily and do our building project in two phases.  Enough cash and short term pledges are on hand to do phase 1 which includes completing the renovation to the office and the foundation work for the entire project.  We remain committed to use no long term financing for any of the project.  If anyone would like further information, please contact Ross Witschonke, Linden Hustedt or Ruth Paschall. Therefore, with gratitude and confidence we move Forward in Faith!


Please  CLICK HERE to watch a video update.
The following images depict  the architectural rendering of the proposed church office building as well as the existing condition of the building.

Rendering of Office Building - Original, Present and ProposedRendering of Office Building Front AreaOffice Building Present Condition-Back of Building 4-14-2020

Office Building Present Condition-Eaves-4-14-2020


The Building Committee met on February 3, 2020. Contractor bids were reviewed and Bergeron Custom Homes. Construction was selected as the contractor for the project. Based on detailed estimates and bids for the present design a budget of $1,635,000 was agreed which is $100,000 below the proposed budget at the time of Congregational Approval. Based on this budget additional cash and pledges required to completely fund the project is $690,000. The fund raising committee agreed to initiate a final drive to raise these funds. The target date to begin construction is now May 1, 2020. The contractor will begin immediately to secure final County approval and building Permits. We will meet again in April to review fund raising status.


The Boca Grande Historic Preservation Board unanimously approved the revised design for the church office building as approved in our September 29, 2019 meting and subsequently approved by the Church Council. Work will begin immediately to secure and contractor complete the building permit process and be ready to begin construction in May 2020. Additional fund raising is required before construction can start.


The Building Committee has approved a design modification to the Office Renovation Project. In response to concerns from The Boca Grande Historic Preservation Board the new design keeps the office building separated from the main church building with a four foot space between them. The Preservation Board was concerned that the previous design which connected the two buildings diminished the historical significance of the office building, which was originally built as the church parsonage. The new design still includes the restoration of the front porch to its original appearance as a parsonage entry. The new rear entry with lift for handicap access will remain a part of the main church building. A level walkway between the buildings has been added to give handicap access to both buildings. We are planning to return to the Historic Preservation Board for approval on November 13, 2019 and targeting a construction start date of April 1, 2020. 



Dear Fellow Members in Christ,

 On August 14, 2019, the Historic Preservation Board of Boca Grande reviewed our design plans for our church office renovation. Because our building is in the Boca Grande Historic District and has been designated a “contributing property” this Board of six Boca Grande residents has the authority to approve or disapprove the design of our building renovations. The Church Building Committee has worked with an experienced architect in Boca Grande and has been careful to incorporate the requirements outlined by the State of Florida for historic buildings. The design even includes the restoration of the original front porch of this 100 year old building that was  destroyed many years ago.

We worked closely with Lee County Community Development which recommended approval of our plan to the Board and noted that we were in compliance with state guidelines for rehabilitating historic buildings.

Unfortunately, our request for approval was denied by a vote of four to two.  After hearing concerns about federal guidelines and National Historic Registration brought forward by a visiting consultant the Board asked County officials for further clarification. The prevailing objection appears to be our connecting the office building to our sanctuary and fellowship structure.

While disappointed, we are not discouraged. Upon clarification from the County on Federal guidelines we may be able to resubmit our present plan. We have also  initiated a modification  that will separate the two structures but connect them with a level walkway so that our new lift can be utilized for access to both buildings. The modified design will meet all of the needs previously approved by the congregation.

 After approval by our building committee and all appropriate additional committees and the Church Council, we are targeting a return to the Preservation Board in October and we are hopeful that they will appreciate our efforts to be a historic site that enhances the Boca Grande Community and approve our design.

 Of course our purpose is serving God – Receiving the Light, Being the Light, and Sharing the Light. I ask you to pray that our process moves forward in peace as we Glorify God in all we do!

 Praise God

Ross Witschonke

Building Committee Co-Chair


The combined fund raising effort focused on purchasing a parsonage, and the office and church construction projects has been moving along nicely. While we haven’t yet reached our overall goal of $2,500,000, we also are not at the point in time where all of the funds are needed.

We’d like to take this opportunity to give you an update on our progress and some insight into the future.

In November the church was able to purchase the house Matthew and Joy had been renting, at a total cost of $517,000. This 3-bedroom house in the Windward sub-division was constructed in 2017. It will serve nicely as our parsonage for many decades.

The building work has been budgeted at $2,000,000. This covers much more than just the office project. And, we have intentional used estimated budget numbers that are high. We do not want to surprise the congregation, while in the middle of construction, with a notice that we need more funds.

This past year we completed conversion of the stage and youth room area to two multi-purpose rooms. The single bathroom off of the Fellowship Hall was changed to an ADA compliant bathroom. The removable railings on the sanctuary steps should be arriving some time this spring. Due to the adverse impacts from Hurricane Irma this work cost more than expected and took too long to complete.

Because of that experience the Building Committee decided to delay the approved remodeling of the bathrooms, estimated cost $75,000, until this work can be included with the office work.

In 2018 the Building Committee worked with the architect and office sub-committee, and after several iterations, finalized the office and addition floor plan. In the process the total size was reduced approximately 10%, and effective usability for our church was improved.

The architect is working on detailed construction drawings. We expect to shortly begin the permitting process with Lee County, which includes approval by the Boca Grande Historic District Review Board.

The office is a Designated Historic Building in the Boca Grande Historic District, and is also included in the National Register of Historic Places. We are required to undertake restoration as we upgrade the structure and utilities and covert the interior to current use. This is as costly as new construction. Therefore we have budgeted a cost of $400 per square foot, totaling $1,080,000 for this construction. Plus contingency and cost overrun provisions of $320,000.
The total construction cost for the office and bathrooms should range between $1,155,000 and $1,475,000.

The overall budget includes a number of other items, in addition to the office project, multi-purpose rooms and bathrooms.

We’ve budgeted $40,000 to replace the Fellowship Hall and Classrooms carpet at the same time that we install new commercial grade carpet tiles in the office.

We’ve budgeted $75,000 to purchase all new furniture for the offices, addition, and Music Director’s work area.

We’ve budget $50,000 to add enhanced networking, electronic and Audio/Visual equipment to our facility, including the offices, meeting and classrooms, and Fellowship Hall.

We’ve budgeted $35,000 for landscaping. This will cover the area in front of the office and improvement of other landscaping on the property.

We’ve budgeted $40,000 for construction loan interest. As pledged donations are received and the project takes longer to get started, the need for a construction loan will decline.

And, out of the gross budget of $2,000,000 at the present time there is $105,000 that is not designated for any specific purpose.

As soon as the permitting process is complete we expect to be soliciting bids from potential contractors. Congregational and District approvals specify that we cannot start construction unless we have sufficient funds to cover actual bid costs plus 10%.

At this time it is impossible to know whether work could start on the project this year. All contractors appear to be very busy. Most likely construction work would begin in April or May of 2020. It is preferable to accomplish all of the heavy construction during the summer while the island and our church are not busy.



Some members have thoughts that we should not connect the office to the church, often, we believe, based on the assumption that this would result in a significant cost savings.

In 2018, as part of its due diligence the Building Committee investigated the option of not adding the new space between classroom A and the office, and instead adding a central elevator/stairway structure between the two buildings with an enclosed raised walkway connecting this structure to the church and to the office.  The structure would provide the needed accessibility to both buildings.

It was determined that there would be little cost savings with this option.  The approved design is a very efficient, low-cost rectangular addition with only two exterior walls.

The alternate design option was rejected due to a significant loss of functionality compared to the approved plan with little financial gain.




When the Forward in Faith fund raising effort was started in the spring of 2018 the total goal of $2,500,000 was based on $500,000 to purchase the parsonage and $2,000,000 to cover all aspects of the building project.

In November of 2018 the church purchased the parsonage at a cost of $517,000. This purchase was funded using donations and pledges for the parsonage; a 20% allocation of donations and pledges for the general campaign; a major donation from the seller; and short-term borrowing of funds donated for the building project.

At the January 22, 2019 Church Council meeting the Chairman of the Finance Committee announced that this purchase results in an annual operating cost savings of $30,000. That is 5% of our 2019 Operating Budget.

Since January of 2018 the total size of the office project has been reduced from 3,000 square feet to 2,700 square feet.

At the present time the total estimated cost of $2,000,000 is comprised of the following items:

Total Architectural and Permitting Fees $80,000
Phase 1 Construction (Stage, Youth Room, Small Bathroom,
Major bathroom remodeling) $175,000
Office remodeling & expansion $1,080,000
Contingencies & overrun provisions $320,000
Replace carpet in Fellowship Hall $40,000
Furniture $75,000
Network, Electronics, Audio/Visual $50,000
Landscaping $35,000
Construction Loan Interest $40,000
Miscellaneous Contingency $105,000

Building Committee Update 3/28/2018

The Building Committee’s work in the next few months will be focused on development of construction drawings and specifications. Our goal is to develop a final set of set of drawings and specifications which eliminate the potential for contractor change orders and extra charges. After this work is completed we will begin the process of permitting the project.

Ruth Paschall, Pat Witschonke and Sara Moll have joined together in a sub-committee that will work with the church staff to refine the office plans, and develop plans and specifications for furnishing and equipping the office.

The Building Committee will be establishing a task group that will aid in the development of construction drawings and specification for the project. If you have applicable experience and would like to help, please contact Steve Kieffer at 964-8191.


Building Committee update 3.13.18

On March 9, 2018 the Building Committee submitted its report to the congregation.  That report includes detailed information, revised architectural drawings, and the committee’s recommendations.  Copies of the report are available from the church office, and Sunday mornings in the Fellowship Hall.

 The architectural designs are viewable Sunday mornings in the Fellowship Hall.

The committee is recommending the total renovation of the house, which serves as our office, plus connection of that structure to the church with additional useful space and an elevator to provide accessibility for all people.

A Church Conference, a congregational meeting, will be held on March 25th at 3 PM to vote on the committee’s recommendations.

Building Update 11.7.17

On October 6th the Boca Grande Historic District Board approved our interior remodeling plans. The contractor, Seagate Development, was then able to obtain a building permit. On October 17th a construction meeting was held with Seagate personnel at the church.The rest of the demolition has occurred and the new stud walls have been placed. We are now waiting for an electrician. The original electrician backed out, claiming to have too much business. Seagate is searching for an electrical contractor who will perform the work for a similar price.

The removable railing contractor will be at the church this week taking field measurement, prior to fabrication.

This simple project is moving much slower than anticipated, however, it will be accomplished. Due to the project delays, we will not be able to address the main bathroom remodeling project until next summer.


July 2017
Initial Remodeling

The Church Council has approved going forward with remodeling of the Youth Room and Stage Area, as well as, the single bathroom next to the Crying Room.  A few other small tasks are also part of this project, including the addition of removable railings in the Sanctuary to assist members in being able to climb up and down the stairs to reach the Communion Rail.  A budget of $60,000 was established.  Completion is anticipated to occur by the end of August.

The Lighthouse Church Charge Conference has established a Building Committee. The Committee will follow the requirements outlined in the United Methodist Book of Discipline, and:

  1. Evaluate the Church Office and Other Facilities,
  2. Develop Architectural and Project Plans for upgrading the facilities to support the church’s mission,
  3. Develop and Present information to the membership
  4. Develop and Implement Fund Raising and/or Financing Plans
  5. Obtain the necessary approvals

Architect T. A. Krebs LLC has been hired to work with the Committee.

The Church Council has appointed the following people to serve on the Building Committee: Steve Kieffer, Chairman, Ed Paxton, Lay Leader, Pat Witschonke, Chrys Hyde, Nick Kaiser, Carlo deRosa, and Lindy Hustedt

This drawing depicts the potential phases of this project. 
Those phases are presented in more detail below


The potential work depicted below can be accomplished in phases.

Stage and Youth Room Remodeling
Remodeling the stage and youth room area, converting this space to two useable multi-purpose rooms must be the first phase.  The stage has never been used.  The church has need of more multi-purpose meeting rooms.  The table and chair storage is not sized properly, and its use is inhibited by the exterior window and window opening to the stage. After remodeling, this space can then be used as temporary office space while the Office and Addition work occur. Also as part of this first phase, the Bathroom adjacent to the Crying Room should be converted to an ADA  (American’s with Disabilities Act) compliant bathroom.  Several other smaller outstanding improvement projects will be included in the phase. Due to the church’s seasonal activity, and the necessity of closing the Fellowship Hall to accomplish this work, this phase should be scheduled to occur during the summer months, with completion no later than October.

Bathroom Remodeling
This project removes
the two small children bathroom which are never used, and enlarges the Men’s and Women’s Bathroom.  Those bathrooms are changed to be compliant with current ADA design requirements.This project must happen after the bathroom next to the Crying Room is remodeled. This work must occur during the months of July, August and September when church activity is at its lowest level, because there will only be one useable bathroom while this work is occurring. This work could occur concurrent with the Office Remodeling and Addition phase.

Office Remodeling and Addition
This preliminary plan
considers reworking the parsonage and transforming it into an office.  That includes complying with the required historic preservation standards for the building originally constructed in 1915.  During that process the front screen porch will return. The building will be raised so the finished floor height is the same as the church. Any necessary structural repairs and/or improvements will occur.  The second floor will be removed and the office ceiling height will be raised. The interior will be changed to support the building’s function as an office. This plan includes the concept of connecting the office to the church with an addition.  That addition would result in enlargement of the Sunday School Room to a more useable rectangular shape and size.  The second classroom will be extended over the area where the classroom deck now exists. A conference space would be added, with wall space to accommodate a church library. An elevator would be added.  This will provide disabled people access to the church and office.  ADA regulations and the United Methodist Church require that access be provided to the office and church.  The long exterior access ramp will be removed. A side entrance to the Nave is included in this addition.

Phase 1

 Bathroom Remodeling

 Office and Addition 


 Front elevation of the Office with restoration of the screen porch

East elevation of the Office Addition, as viewed from PJ’s parking lot

 The open space between the church and office with the ramp removed
as viewed from 3rd Street


Lighthouse Church Needs Analysis

April 3, 2017

 The church has been growing rapidly. Attend at services and participation in activities has been increasing. With the addition of the Associate Pastor one year ago, the church has significantly expanded its mission of outreach to the local community and youth.

 The 100 year old parsonage is being used as the church office, although the space is not configured for, or suitable for this purpose. The parsonage needs structural repairs. The floor elevation is significantly below flood elevation, placing the church’s equipment and records at risk.

 Much of the needs analysis involves an evaluation of the facilities: their functionality, effectiveness, and efficiency in supporting the church’s mission.



 4 offices & Reception/Secretary area are needed.

It would be nice to open front porch, restoring the historic appearance and providing an welcoming presentation to the street

Document storage space is needed, the second floor bedrooms should be eliminated. The office should have higher ceilings. Effective sound-proofing is necessary between the offices.


 library area, choir files, conference room, expanded Sunday School Room, office bathrooms, elevator for accessibility to the church, a desk and work area is needed for the Music Director.


 Remove the stage, which is not used, and change to two multi-purpose rooms at that end. If this phase of the project is accomplished first, then these rooms can be used as temporary offices, while the office construction occurs.

 The bathroom adjacent to the Crying Room should be converted to a Family / Handicap bathroom.

 The Boys & Girls bathroom are not needed or used. These should be removed, and the Men’s and Women’s bathroom should be enlarged to accommodate their use by more people.

 Whenever possible, all rooms should be designed as multi-purpose rooms.


 A removable railing system should be design/engineering and constructed to provide accessibility to the Chancel.

 The space between the current Chancel and Sacristy floor and the original church floor is inaccessible, unconditioned space. Initial indications are appearing that this flaw is leading toward potential structural problems. This should be addressed and solved.

 Installation of the organ sound system in the Sacristy Closet has taken almost ½ of the hanging space. The Pastors need that space for hanging Vestments. The sound system must be moved.

 Because we are working around an existing facility, it is reasonable to expect, as the architect works on this project, his professional knowledge may result in other observations and recommendations concerning the facilities.