Preservation Iowa’s 2016 Most Endangered Buildings: First Baptist Church (Grundy Center, Grundy County)
The First Baptist Church was built in 1918. The building was a grand statement to the First Baptist Church community, which had lost its previous church building to a fire on December 20, 1917. Within 13 months this structure was built and in use without any debt. It cost $42,000 to build and the remaining $14,000 due on the note was paid through donations the day of its dedication.
The church’s architectural style is representative of the Neo Classical Revival Style. The symmetrical front façade, two-story ionic columns with large pediment, ornate pediments above the doors, evenly placed rectangular windows, classical entablature, and corner pilasters all help to clearly define the classical style of the building.
The property had been privately owned since the early 1980s. The city took possession of the property in October of 2015. The present exterior condition of the First Baptist Church is in relatively good shape. The upper corners of the building are starting to show signs of deterioration with the cracking brick peeling away from the corner framework. The ionic capitals on the columns have all been removed and most likely sold by the previous owner. The roof has several large holes and water is currently infiltrating the church interior.
While the exterior of the First Baptist Church looks to be in decent shape, the interior is in a very serious state due to years of neglect. The interior is filled with excessive amounts of garbage and debris. With the added moisture from the roof leaking, the debris is causing major deterioration of all woodwork, wall, staircases, flooring and architectural detailing. Sheetrock on the ceilings and walls has fallen and some floors have significant rotting. Black mold is evident throughout the entire building. The building also contains asbestos.
The city is currently in the process of applying for grants to assist with removal of the hazardous debris from the inside of the building. The city will be hiring a structural engineer and architect to evaluate the condition of the building as soon as the debris is removed. Main Street Grundy Center and the city of Grundy Center plan to work together to educate the community about the possible funding sources for renovation of the building and the positive economic impact that the rehabbed building could have in terms of tax revenue.
Preservation Iowa’s Most Endangered Property program was started in 1995 and implemented to educate Iowans about the special buildings and historic sites that are slowly and gradually slipping away from us. In the past 20 years, Preservation Iowa has designated over 140 archaeological sites, churches, landscapes and a variety of other buildings.
The full list of Preservation Iowa’s 2016 Most Endangered Properties includes:
- Endangered: Troy Academy Built in 1850
- Endangered: Herring Hotel, Belle Plaine
- Endangered: Beyer Building on 4th Avenue, Grinnell
- Endangered: First Baptist Church, Grundy Center
- Endangered: Iowa State Penitentiary
- Endangered: Knutson Building
- Endangered: St. Patrick Church
- Endangered: Reimann-Schoeneman House