Updated: Brewpub Proposed for Site of Belltown Church - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Updated: Brewpub Proposed for Site of Belltown Church

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Belltown United Methodist Church would be turned into brewpub (Photo: WBOC) Belltown United Methodist Church would be turned into brewpub (Photo: WBOC)

LEWES, Del. - Just west of the intersection of Routes 1 and 9 sits the Belltown United Methodist Church, which has its roots in the pre-Civil War era. The historic building, which has been left empty for years, could now have a new purpose: brewpub. 

Revelation Brewing Company has proposed plans to build a nearly 9,000-square-foot restaurant, bar, and brewery adjacent to the church. The company would also revamp the church itself, to allow for seating. Brewpub owners said that they would try to keep the same type of exterior to the building, so as to maintain the historic nature. 

"We want to tell the story of Belltown," said Harry Metcalfe, from the company. 

Belltown pre-dates the Civil War, when it was established by Jacob Bell, a free black man. Metcalfe said the congregation, that founded the church, formed in 1873. The congregation moved to the current location in 1946. 

"Our plan is to be extremely respectful of what this church has meant to the community," Metcalfe said. 

Bessie Ann Rushin lives across the street from the church, and said she had her concerns about the proposal. She though that a former place of God, was a poor location for a brewpub. 

"My grandma used to go there," she said. "The whole family used to go there... Now they're going to come up with something like this. No."

The Sussex County Planning and Zoning Commission has scheduled a public hearing for Nov. 12, to discuss the application. Rushin said that she would be there to voice her opposition to the plan. 

"It should stay just like it is," she said. 

Others like Lewes resident Matthew Woods said that the brewpub would be an exciting way to revitalize the site.

"We have a lot of breweries around here," he said. "But it seems to be the thing popping up. You know microbreweries. And who knows. It could bring a lot of business to the area."

Reverend Charlotte White lives just down the street. As a pastor, she has been speaking out about the possible transformation of the church her grandmother attended.

"It's been here forever, it's part of our heritage, it's part of our legacy," she said. "To take that church and turn it into something that's totally opposite of what the scriptures teach us and what it has stood for all these many years, I just don't know how people are looking at themselves."

James Stevenson on the other hand thinks growth is good. He owns OneCall Services right across the street.

"I'm a big proponent of small business because I'm a small business owner," he explained. "So whenever I see other small businesses having success you know I think that's good."

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