Falls Avenue

Multi-Use Building

Built in 1873, this house of worship at 111 Falls Ave. in Wabash, Indiana has a long and varied history. For a cost of $2,500, the property was originally home to the Second Christian Church.  This congregation splintered from the First Christian Church after the original congregation's desire to include organ music at their service.  After ten years, the difference in worhship was resolved and the two congregations merged back into one.  

In 1883, the building became home to the Congregation of the Rodef-Sholem, an orthodox Hebrew congregation.  The congregation continued ownership until a dwindling Jewish population in the communith meant the building was only used on holy days several times per year starting in the mid-1930's.  After 60 years of occupancy, this congregation has the longest ownership of the building which officially ended in 1943.

 In 1944, the building became home to the First Spiritualist Church of Wabash which lasted for the next 3 years.  The church was led by Mediums Clifton & Nettie White who were sued in Wabash Circuit Court by a congregation member for repayment of a loan in the amount of $3100.  Court records indicate the litigation was resolved in favor of the Spiritualist organization but the group disbanded shortly thereafter.  

By 1949, ownership of the property belonged to the Zion Lutheran Church which saw a substantial remodeling of the aging structure.  Most significant was the construction of a fellowship hall in the previously unfinished crawl space by excavating an 8 foot deep cellar.  Inside the sanctuary, the flat ceiling was removed to reveal the original hand hewn timbers.  New church lighting was installed and large choir loft was constructed.  Al Timler, a noted stain glass artisan  from Holman City Glass in Fort Wayne, was commissioned to create new windows throughout.  In 1960, The congregation continued to improve the property with the addition of a 2 story office and classroom space at the rear of the property.  After approximately 50 years of ownership, the Lutherans moved to a newer facility and a number of non-denominational congregations occupied the church thereafter.  It was most recently used as a martial arts studio.

The building has a new roof (including tear-off) installed in March of 2022.  The rear office addition has been converted to a loft apartment that features 3 bedrooms and one bath.  The apartment will require a new heating system.  The sanctuary has a high efficiency furnace with central A/C. The building can continue to be used as a house of worship or converted to a multi-use live/work property.  The property includes 6 paved, off-street parking spaces with 8,300 sq. ft. of finished space in the interior.  A protective easement by Indiana Landmarks is in place to protect the exterior. 

Contact Paul at Indiana Landmarks at 574-289-8861 or phayden@indianalandmarks.org for more information.

 

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