LACONIA — Rock musician Justin Spencer’s plans for the former Evangelical Baptist Church in Veterans Square include a stage but don’t include its stained glass windows or its cross, which will be donated back to the congregation that is now in Lakeport.
Spencer, a founding member of Recycled Percussion, bought the 1836 building on April 21 for $360,000. The structure, which had housed the Holy Grail Restaurant and Pub, had been vacant for three years.
The old church at 12 Veterans Square is on the National Register of Historic Places.
In an episode of his Chaos & Kindness television program, Spencer is shown waking up in the building, working out in a private gym he has installed and taking a 49-degree ice bath that he said grounds him. Later, he returns to the building to ride a motorized cart inside.
He’s been sleeping there for the last few weeks to immerse himself in the construction project.
In an interview Tuesday, Spencer said he wasn’t ready to talk about his ultimate building plans, which he said are still being formulated.
“I’m kind of undecided but I have some big intentions,” he said.
He filed a May 30 building permit that describes removal of the bar and construction of a 12-foot by 22-foot stage. On May 29, the city filed a cease and desist order, saying work on the building required a building permit application.
The cost of the application doubled to $200 as a penalty because it was filed after the fact.
Spencer said the stage will come in handy during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The stage is for me so I can broadcast from there until people can gather again,” he said.
City Planning Director Dean Trefethen said the application for a permit after the work was done was unfortunate but not all that uncommon. He said he’s still waiting to see applications for plumbing and electrical work.
People contacted the city with concerns after the stained-glass windows were removed. That and building changes visible in the TV show prompted the city to demand a permit application.
Last year, Spencer converted a vacant storefront on Union Avenue into the first-ever Chaos & Kindness store, which offers both merchandise and experiences. The store has been closed because of the pandemic.