Memories stir as Middletown razes church building
MIDDLETOWN—After 157 years of standing as the Middletown Baptist Church, the original church building was demolished in mid-February to make room for a much-needed parking lot.
Immediately behind the demolished original church building a new complete church has been built and has been in use for more than a year. The tearing down of the old building and creating more parking spaces is phase two of the entire building project.
Several area residents and lifelong church members were on hand to witness the historic event. As the crane started pushing in the walls of the old sanctuary, many eyes filled with tears remembering the years and efforts and memories that the structure held for them.
On hand were Wayne and Frances Logan, Clifford and June Hobbs, Tom and Lillian Davison, John Hagemier, and Pastor Greg Williams. Other residents of the community parked on the other side of the highway watching the event while dozens circled the block several times, taking pictures of the demolition team, headed by Keith Thomas, doing its work.
The Middletown Baptist Church began on the second Saturday of September in 1851. The church had half-interest in the well-built brick building in conjunction with the Presbyterian Church.
The original church building was built of wood. In 1869, a new building was built by the Presbyterians at the cost of $1,468.40. The brick for the building was made by Clark Averill and fired in the furnaces in Middletown. The Middletown Baptist Church purchased half-interest in the building and land in April, 1870.
In 1917, the entire church building was remodeled. In 1958, a 24’ by 60’ basement and six new Sunday School rooms were added to the church and dedicated. The church auditorium was then remodeled in 1966.
More recently, the home adjacent to the church was purchased by the congregation in 1997. It, too, has been demolished for the new upcoming parking lot project.
The remaining mounds of brick were left on location so that members of the community may gather and keep as much of the brick as needed, free of charge. Many may just want a few bricks for mementos; others may need truckloads for projects and/or fill.
After everyone has had the opportunity to collect bricks in late February and early March, the remaining debris will be removed and the new parking lot will be leveled and graded.
“It was a bittersweet event to witness,” said Greg Williams, pastor of Middletown Baptist Church. “So many wonderful memories and lives that this church has touched make my heart swell with thankfulness.
“Even though this was a heartfelt event, it is also exciting to see what the future holds for our congregation.”
Middletown is a small community located in northern Montgomery County. People attend church there from surrounding towns such as Vandalia, Bowling Green, Wellsville, and Montgomery City.