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Plans Advance to Relocate Church
CT 05 03 18

Plans were put into action last week to move the Bethel AME Church from 202 Henry Street to a new location next to the Grand River Historical Society and Museum. The church, which was dedicated in 1868, is believed to be the first AME Church built north of the Missouri River post-Civil War.

Brent Kline, owner of Woody's Automotive Group, purchased the property the church sits on to expand parking for the dealership. Museum Curator Pam Clingerman approached Kline about the fate of the church and expressed an interest in preserving the structure for the museum. Kline, a history buff, did not want to see the building destroyed because of all the history it held. After listening to ideas for repurposing the building, he donated the church to the museum, Clingerman said. The project will be completed in three phases beginning with moving the church building to the new site and re-installing on a new basement/foundation. With the help of two area foundations, the Lambert Foundation and the Livingston County Community Foundation, the museum has raised enough funds to move the building.

Museum president, Marvin Holcer, last week presented Dave Gingerich, of Gingerich's Structural Transfer, the signed contract and a check. This is going to be a large undertaking, and the museum needs to raise an additional $45,000 to complete phase one. Phase one includes a new foundation with plans for three classrooms, bathrooms, kitchen and meeting area, and the actual move from Henry Street to the museum site, a new roof, heating and cooling, as well as preparing the lot including additional fill dirt, drainage and walkways.

Anyone who would like to help the museum save this piece of Chillicothe history may make donations payable to the Grand River Historical Society and Museum, AME Church Moving Fund. Contributions are tax deductible.

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