St. John's Church. Photo courtesy of the IBJ.

German Church saved through generous donations

Crowdfunding campaign raises $75,640. 

The 100-year-old church at the corner of German Church Road and Washington Street was once again in jeopardy of being demolished earlier this month, but amazing efforts of the Town of Cumberland, Indiana Landmarks, and nearly 100 donors saved this property from which German Church Road takes its name. The Federal housing tax credits that were required to redevelop the property as senior housing were delayed by the federal budget process. The church congregation of St John's (owner of the church) requested $75,000 be raised and paid to them by early May for the building's upkeep. Otherwise, church leadership said the building would come down on June 1.

Indianapolis-based TWG Development LLC has agreed to buy the building, contingent upon the awarding of affordable-housing tax credits. TWG has a strong track record for redeveloping historic buildings for housing. Its projects include Illinois Street Senior Apartments, Fall Creek Place and Constitution Gardens.

“We have worked with the Indiana Housing & Community Development Authority (IHCDA), which put the project on a waitlist, and we are hopeful that the federal tax credits will eventually come through,” said Joe Whitsett of TWG.

In 2015, when it looked likely that the church would be demolished for a 24-hour convenience store and gas station, thousands of individuals and groups mobilized to voice their support for saving the historic structure. The gas station proposal was withdrawn and TWG came forward with its proposal for reuse.

“A lot of people see the German Church as a landmark and want to see it saved,” said Marsh Davis, president of Indiana Landmarks, a private nonprofit organization that saves meaningful places. “It could take on new life and serve the community once again if enough donors sign on to help.”

Here's a link to the WRTV-Channel 6 report on the success of the fundraising efforts.