LIMA — A century-old downtown landmark is on its last legs.
Earlier this week, the church at 201 S. Union St. began to leak masonry and brickwork from its roof near the large ornamental rose window facing Spring Street. City inspectors on Thursday were worried the building wouldn’t survive the high winds expected Thursday night.
The City of Lima has shut down Spring Street between Union Street and Central Avenue and to ensure any falling debris doesn’t harm passersby.
The brick building was originally constructed in 1898 at a cost of $10,000 by the United Brethren Church. The denomination merged with the Methodists, and the building was more recently known as First United Methodist Church. In 2005, the building was eventually purchased by Sonshine Ministries, also known as God’s House, who has owned it since.
Pastor Dennis Kline said his congregation shuttered the building in July 2017 due to safety concerns when interior work began to collapse.
“It’s hard to express the feelings that we all have in it,” Kline said. “We’ve all cried because the insurance didn’t step up, and now, it’s at this point when it needs to come down. It affects not only us as a congregation but the city of Lima as well.”
Beside the obvious damaged masonry, the exterior of the building shows a number of cracked windows and broken doors. Inside, Kline said there’s a number of historical nameplates giving credit to local families for their dedication to the church.
Because the church is to dangerous to enter, such historical items may be lost when the 10,000 square-foot building is eventually demolished.
“That’s all gone and I cannot even go in and take it out, because it’s not safe to be in there,” Kline said.
The City of Lima issued an emergency demolition permit for the structure Thursday afternoon.
Kline said there’s no time frame for the demolition at this point, but once the lot is cleared, he is looking at what can be done to give back to the community for its support of the church. Due to the building’s historical significance, he recognized what the building may have meant for the larger city and its people.
“We’ve held weddings, fundraisers and dinners and different things in the fellowship hall,” Kline said. ” I had an aunt who got married in it 70 years ago.”
The church at 201 S. Union St. is the second downtown building in Lima to fall down of its own accord within the last 12 months.
Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.