Cumberland Community Makes Final Pitch to Save Century-Old Church from Wrecking Ball

A development plan that includes senior housing and retail space could save a historic church in Cumberland from demolition.

by Adriana Pop, Associate Editor

A development plan that includes senior housing and retail space could save a historic church in Cumberland from demolition.

According to the Indianapolis Business Journal, town manager Andrew Klinger has announced that locally based TWG Development intends to convert St. John’s United Church of Christ into 60 senior housing units with first-floor retail.

The mixed-use project, which would be funded by a private-public partnership, would preserve the old structure as part of a larger building.

The town’s officials are still negotiating the financial details of the development proposal and hope to convince church owners to cancel their agreement to sell the property to Giant Eagle Inc. The company is planning to raze the building, which has a price tag of between $1.5 million and $2 million, and replace it with a gas station and convenience store.

Since the cost of repairing the historic structure is too high for the dwindling congregation, church leaders intend to build a new and smaller church on a 50-acre parcel at the northwest corner of East Prospect Street and Carroll Road.

Earlier this year, the town of Cumberland reached out to more than 50 developers to gauge their interest in redeveloping the old property, located at the northeast corner of Washington Street and German Church Road, while retaining its structure.

The site once hosted a Tudor Gothic Revival-style church which opened in 1855 to serve German immigrants who farmed the surrounding area. Known as Deutsche Evangelische St. Johannes Kirche, the building was later replaced with the current church which opened in 1914.

Photo credits: St. John’s United Church of Christ via Facebook