- Associated Press - Monday, November 16, 2015

DELPHI, Ind. (AP) - A historic frame church twisted and turned on Delphi’s streets Thursday morning, moving from its long-standing home to the city’s canal park.

The Wabash and Erie Canal Association acquired the church recently after securing a grant from an area arts organization. The 20-by-30 foot church fits with the several other historical buildings in the Canal Park, including a school, depot and blacksmith, Dan McCain, president of the canal association said.

Crews recently removed the building from its foundation and set it on a tractor trailer to move five blocks through town to the park Thursday, Nov. 12.

The former German Lutheran Church - which dropped “German” in the name by World War I - held services at 503 N. Union St. on Delphi’s north side from 1884 until the 1920s, McCain said.

Beyond the 1920s, however, the building has sat vacant.



“It grew up with shrubs around it,” McCain said. “Most people didn’t even know it was there.”

But when the owner decided to sell his property in spring 2014, the canal association expressed interest in adding the historic church to its expanding historic village at Canal Park, along the canal.

“This is a reward for us,” McCain said, “because it was almost lost over there, not so many blocks away from us.”

The church now sits across the canal near the Gray Bridge on an undeveloped portion of Canal Park. McCain said it could eventually hold weddings, meetings, lectures and many other events.

The canal association acquired the land about four to five years ago, McCain said, and then put up the bridge for easier access into the park. The church’s location fits the gradual time periods of the park’s layout,from the 1850s to the 1880s.

Vicki Sickler, vice president of operation for the canal association, said the church ties in with the era of the 1884 Reed Case House, which stands directly across the river from the church. The house was moved from Front Street in town to the park close to 30 years ago.

“This makes it a complete unit because the church would’ve been very important in this time period,” she said, “and that makes our village.”

McCain said the organization received a grant from the Tippecanoe Arts Foundation of Lafayette for $56,000, which includes funding for the building move, roof replacements as well as structural and facade improvements.

Workers will first focus on the exterior before repairing and updating the interior, McCain said, with those improvements finished by June 30, 2016. The ultimate restoration, he said, will probably take more than a year to complete.

Al Auffart, who works with a crew that restores the historic buildings, helped lay the church’s new foundation. Once the building is leveled on the ground, Auffart said workers will lay a limestone foundation around the church’s base.

“I always like preservation and adaptive reuse and things like that,” he said. “I don’t see any reason to destroy something because it’s old.”

Auffart said compared to most renovations - 12 of which he’s helped with at the park - the church is a simpler process, as it’s a sold and in-tact structure.

The church has a charcoal gray peaked roof and a transom window across the door, originally a double door. The building, however, was rather plain, McCain said, without a steeple or bell like some historic churches.

McCain said he’s expecting the church to draw visitors just like the Canal Park does, especially, he said, with the “ambiance of this early period, people seem to be wanting to step back in time.”

“We open our buildings and people like to get back and feel like they’re in a log house or an old school or a church,” he said. “These are things that bring people to our park.”

Even though the church won’t be accessible for more than a year or more, he encourages people to recall if they know much about the history or former congregants, as he hasn’t met anyone connected with the church - yet.

“If there was a wedding in there, or something that they would have known about their grandparents,” he said, “it would help us build the story.”

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Source: (Logansport) Pharos-Tribune, https://bit.ly/1Nvy64u

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Information from: Pharos-Tribune, https://www.pharostribune.com

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