A historic Orange church is set to be reborn with proposals including converting the building into a cooking school and space for community activities.
The former Uniting Church at Five Ways in East Orange would undergo a heritage-sympathetic renovation under plans to go to Orange City Council soon.
However, there is a missing ingredient in the new owners' proposal for the building's future.
Chef Josie Chapman and husband Jeffery are trying to find historic metal letters that formed part of the church's name on the front of the 1903 building.
They said when the Uniting Church removed its possessions from the site for the sale most of the letters spelling out 'Ex-Congregational Church' were pulled down.
They were put in a box and sold as part of a fire sale of furniture and assets at the church in May, 2019.
"They pulled them off, it's a heritage-listed building, we are trying to find them," Mr Chapman said.
"The letters have been removed and sold at the sale."
He said they were seeking to get the original letters back as part of restoring the heritage of the building and hoped the new owner of the letters could contact them.
"We'll put something back," he said.
Mr Chapman said they were finalising plans, including a working title of 'Vestry' for the new venture.
He said the heritage plans included installing old handrails they had obtained from a former Sydney Cricket Ground grandstand.
The couple run the Old Convent at Borenore. That former church building has been converted into space for functions and accommodation with a focus on good food.
Mrs Chapman said they hoped to install a commercial kitchen at the Five Ways site to allow for the re-use of the building.
"We're just looking at loads of opportunities," she said.
Mrs Chapman said a cooking school could involve a range of areas including fermenting and breadmaking.
She said they would include other chefs in providing the training.
Mrs Chapman said there was demand for a cooking school in Orange.
"If there was a cooking school it would be full every weekend. Orange is a real foodie town," she said.
Mrs Chapman said they had also been approached by people who lived nearby keen to use part of the site for activities including yoga classes and pilates.
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She said they wanted to work with the local community and were open to including this in the future of the building.
And she said restoring the heritage of the site was important.
"People are always interested in repurposing buildings," she said.
"The building will change. It's very, very close, the architect's plans are done."
The church held its final service in November, 2018, after the Uniting Church decided to amalgamate its assets in Orange.
Reverend Andrew Cunningham told the Central Western Daily in 2018 the congregation was down to about 10-20 people. Anyone with information about the letters can email the owners at email@example.com
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