Greek Orthodox congregation adds dome, diversity to Lexington's 'church row'

ctruman@herald-leader.comMay 21, 2014 

The unofficial "church row" on Tates Creek Road — which includes Centenary United Methodist, Immanuel Baptist and Tates Creek Christian — is about to get a little bigger and more architecturally diverse.

The Panagia Pantovasilissa Greek Orthodox Church, being built at 3005 Tates Creek Road, should be ready for occupancy in July, said Dr. Dennis Karounos, who chairs the construction committee for the church.

For its first 65 years in Lexington, the church operated at a building a little more than a mile closer to downtown. The site was too small and had no off-street parking or handicap accessibility, Karounos said.

"We used on-street parking for 65 years," he said.

The new church, which serves about 100 families, has 53 parking spaces, Karounos said.

The new church is designed in the Byzantine style, Karounos said, with domes and a bell tower. The 11,300-square-foot structure will be ready for worship in July, but it won't be completely finished. Finishing the interior will require $400,000 on the $2 million-plus building, Karounos said.

Meanwhile, the exterior will be completed, and the interior of the social hall, kitchen and classrooms. The social hall will be divided in half, with part of its used to worship, until money is raised to complete the interior.

The social hall alone is bigger than the church's entire square footage at 920 Tates Creek Road, Karounos said.

The Byzantine architecture draws driver and pedestrian attention along Tates Creek. On Wednesday, the church's huge dome was set into place. The job required a special crane from outside of Lexington.

The dome looks like copper, but it's really a fiberglass material and is lighter than the traditional steel, aluminum, cooper or concrete domes.

For a rendering of what the church will look like when it is completed, go to Panagia.ky.goarch.org/project.

The big churches — Centenary, Immanuel and Tates Creek Christian — are on the opposite side of Tates Creek Road. The Greek Orthodox Church is joined on its side by neighboring New Hope Church.

Sherelle Roberts, a spokeswoman for Lexington police, said churches in the area pay for police overtime through private companies to direct the traffic rush that begins in the early morning and lasts until about noon on Sunday.

When the new church is finished, Roberts said, "What's likely to happen is that the officers will coordinate with each other based on the times the services end and begin."

Cheryl Truman: (859) 231-3202. Twitter: @CherylTruman.

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