6 years later, historic pieces of dismantled Middletown church still stored in crates

A church that was dismantled several years ago for a proposed Texas shopping square remains in crates and pallets in Middletown and in Texas. FILE PHOTO


ResErections Inc. is in the process of dismantling the First Baptist Church along Main Street in Middletown to be sent to a buyer in Bee Cave, Texas. Seven years later, the dismantled church remains in crates with half in Middletown and the other half in Texas. FILE PHOTO

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A church that was dismantled several years ago for a proposed Texas shopping square remains in crates and pallets in Middletown and in Texas. FILE PHOTO ResErections Inc. is in the process of dismantling the First Baptist Church along Main Street in Middletown to be sent to a buyer in Bee Cave, Texas. Seven years later, the dismantled church remains in crates with half in Middletown and the other half in Texas. FILE PHOTO

Once proposed as centerpiece for an antique shopping center in Texas, most of a Middletown church that was dismantled stone by stone still remain in shipping crates and pallets indefinitely after the project failed to materialize.

The dismantling of the former First Baptist Church at 119 S. Main St. started in 2013 after city officials acquired the blighted property through a tax forfeiture.

Lee McClymonds of ResErections Inc. of Cincinnati, said he was notified by local real estate officials in Middletown that the old church had been forfeited to the city which was planning to demolish it.

McClymonds said his company specializes in dismantling old buildings and posted information advertising the church’s availability on his company website.

David Camp, an entrepreneur from Bee Cave, Texas, was looking for reclaimed material for his shopping center. He contacted ResErections negotiated with city officials to acquire the former church and hired ResErections for the dismantling project.

The project was stopped after additional asbestos was found in the basement of the church that was severely burned in 2006 and had been vacant since.

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The contractors said the cost of removing the asbestos was estimated at $51,000, and financially, it could afford only $12,000. They told city officials the city needed to pay the rest of the cost, or they would abandon the project. Middletown City Council paid $13,500 to augment the contractor’s portion for a matching state grant that came to $51,000 needed in June 2013 to resume the project that was completed in early 2014.

The vacant lot where the church sat was sold to a neighbor in 2016, according to Butler County land records.

McClymonds said it cost between $150,000 and $200,000 to dismantle the church. He said the Bedford limestone is similar to the stone at many federal buildings in Washington, D.C., such as the Supreme Court building.

Much of the high-value stone remains stored in Middletown, including four archways, a large arched window and other finished architectural stone.

Camp’s plan was to dismantle the church and reassemble the main sanctuary and bell tower as the centerpiece for a project known as Revival Square in Bee Cave, Texas, west of Austin. The remaining materials were to be salvaged and sold.

However, Revival Square never came fruition. In May 2017, Camp and his business partner could not reach an agreement with Bee Cave officials on parts of the project, according to a 2017 report published in the Austin American-Statesman. Camp looked to move the project to a nearby site outside of the Bee Cave city limits, but that also fell through, according to the Statesman report.

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In September 2017, he closed the Revival furniture store after seven years and liquidated the inventory.

“I still have the church stored, but I have no plans for it,” Camp told the Journal-News recently. “I got tired of fighting with the city (of Bee Cave).”

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Designed in New Gothic Revival architecture, the church was constructed of limestone from Bedford, Ind. McClymonds said there was a masonry estimate of about $700,000 to reconstruct the church.

Camp, who is back in real estate development, said he is still paying rent in Middletown and in Bee Cave to store the pallets of stone and other loose materials such as big windows, wood beams and round stone pillars. He said there are 185 pallets stored in Middletown and about 170 pallets stored in Bee Cave.

“It was unfortunate the way it played out,” Camp said.


BY THE NUMBERS

8,500: Square footage of the church

3,250: Weight in pounds of the church’s peak

1808: Year church was constructed

1904: Year church was rebuilt after fire

2006: Year of last fire in the church which was later vacated

$2 million: Dollar value of the stone

12,000: Number of stones used in construction

500 tons: Weight of the stones

7: The number of years since the church was dismantled

2: The number of locations where the dismantled church is located.

SOURCE: Middletown Historical Society, Journal-News archives, and ResErections, Inc.

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