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Taylor purchases a church for $1

Historic Upland brick church newest to Taylor Community

By Emily Rachelle Russell | Echo

Taylor University and Upland United Methodist Church (UMC) have agreed to a sale of the historic brick UMC building to Taylor for $1.

According to UMC Pastor Rob Neel and Taylor’s Special Assistant to the President Ron Sutherland, the current church building is 114 years old, built in 1903. It measures 13,700 square feet and is one of the oldest remaining brick buildings in Upland.

The transaction began with a conversation between Neel and Sutherland as friends, according to Sutherland. Taylor and UMC have several connections in common: both Christian organizations, both nonprofits and both with ties to the local community. A prominent visual example of these connections can be found in the building itself, which features a stained glass window of Taylor President Emeritus Thaddeus Reade, whose grave rests on campus across from Helena Memorial Hall and after whom the Reade Memorial Liberal Arts Center is named.

“I think part of the reason the synergy worked between us is the connection with Taylor long-term, even in the building,” Sutherland said. “It was a church, and here’s Taylor, a Christian college, having similarly aligned missions — one is congregational and ours is educational — but this desire to see a faith-based connection between the organizations created some contentment in the conversations.”

The United Methodist Church has been become Taylor property through the exchange of $1. (Photograph by Riley Hochstetler)

The United Methodist Church has been become Taylor property through the exchange of $1. (Photograph by Riley Hochstetler)

For the price of a single dollar, UMC is practically giving the building away. According to Sutherland, real estate transactions require a minimum price of $1. Since both Taylor and UMC are nonprofits, the tax write-off of donating the building would have no benefit, so the simpler and faster process of a sale made more sense.

UMC’s congregation will be moving to the former Pierce Governor factory building located on the corner of Eighth and Washington streets. The space for church use is 60,000 square feet, not including large portions of the building currently used for storage. Renovations began October 2016. Neel hopes to begin services in the new space soon, but a certificate of occupancy is required before that official transition can take place.

The new building also showcases UMC’s many connections to Taylor. The building was donated by Leland Boren, husband of the late LaRita Boren after whom Taylor’s campus center was named. Several furnishings in the new space were donated by Upland community members, including Dr. Shannon Reigle of the Taylor Health Center, the former Star Bank, the Rosema Corporation, Upland Community Church and UMC members. Taylor’s contributions include office furniture, the cross and seats from the old chapel and the chairs from old Hodson Dining Commons.

The Upland United Methodist Church is one of the oldest brick buildings in Upland, built in 1903. (Photograph by Riley Hochstetler)

The Upland United Methodist Church is one of the oldest brick buildings in Upland, built in 1903. (Photograph by Riley Hochstetler)

For the old building, Taylor is seeking ideas from campus and the Upland community for potential uses of the space. Sutherland can be contacted at rnsutherl@taylor.edu or 765-998-5118. For students and community members interested in volunteering at the new building, visit UMC’s Facebook page for scheduled group volunteer times or call Tammy Neel directly at 765-499-0915.

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