WILLIAMSTOWN -- Ownership of the former First United Methodist Church on Main Street is now in the hands of the Williamstown Community Preschool.
Julia Munemo, co-president of the preschool's board of directors, said Friday afternoon that the organization and the church closed on the property at 3:30 p.m. at the Registry of Deeds in Adams.
"We're all thrilled this has finally happened. It has been a long time coming and something that we have really worked hard for," she said.
The purchase comes one year, one month and 12 days after Town Meeting approved the use of $250,000 in Community Preservation Act funds to purchase the building May 17, 2011.
The preschool also put $100,000 from its endowment toward the purchase for a total sale price of $350,000.
Pastor Kim Kie said the money from the sale will go toward the eventual construction of a new church building for what is now the New Hope United Methodist Church. New Hope is the result of the First United Methodist churches in Williamstown and North Adams merging in January 2011. The congregation currently meets at the Williamstown Youth Center.
"We're really excited to be able to sell the church to the Williamstown Community Preschool, which started out in partnership with the church 40 years ago. That vision has continued to grow and be a pride of the community," Kie said.
The preschool's operations have been based in an addition built onto the church
With the purchase complete, the preschool will now get to work on the first phase of improvements to the historic church, Munemo said.
Included in that phase is the replacement of stairs from the church to Water Street with a ramp, the conversion of the "choir room" to a second toddler room, and converting the building's heating system from oil to gas, she said.
The preschool is working with Westall Architects and hopes to have the work completed by November, she said.
A second phase of the project will be undertaken at a later date following a capital campaign.