Friday, July 15, 2016

The steeple people at Otterbein

The Bingham Construction guys were back at the museum on Thursday to undertake some minor repairs to the Otterbein Church belfry --- replacing deteriorated trim on the corner posts --- so that painters can get to work one of these days and give the old building a fresh coat or two of white. 

Bob Ulrich already has repaired a deteriorated window and Jim Secor, some door trim. So we're about set to go.

One of the problems with this old building is the fact the paint on it deteriorates at two speeds. Much of the building (a 1945 structure built by the Otterbein congregation from lumber salvaged when the much larger 1889 church building was torn down) is covered in old siding. The paint, therefore, wears off the south, west and north faces gradually in a dignified manner and could serve for a few more years.

But paint peels off the front, reconstructed with new lumber in 1976 --- when the Lucas County Bicentennial Commission moved the building to the museum campus --- to make it look more like the front of the 1889 building. 

Many contents of the church, including the pews, go back to the 1889 building. But the front of the simple 1945 building featured a projecting front entrance and double windows. The new front, looking back to 1889, features two front doors, fretwork and shingles in the gable end --- and the belfry.

The Otterbein congregation itself is very old by Lucas County standards, dating to 1866 when it was formed as the Gartin Class (named after Gartin School, where it met) of the United Brethren in Christ --- a mission of the New York Class, located in Wayne County.

The congregation built the 1889 church four miles south of Chariton along what now is Highway14 and the 1945 building was located there, too.

Two current Lucas County Historical Society board members, Joe Sellers and myself, have a family interest in this old congregation.

My great-great-grandparents, John G. and Isabelle (Greer) Redlingshafer, were charter members and John headed the drive to raise funds to build the 1889 church. Joe's great-grandfather, John P. Sellers, who joined the congregation after his 1880 marriage to member Weltha Lewis,  helped to build it.

Up until a couple of years ago, four board members were Otterbein descendants --- but my distant cousins Ilene Church and Frank Mitchell both have retired from the board.

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