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1008 Michigan

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About the property

While there were a number of historic properties in La Porte and its surrounding area that Preserve Historic La Porte, since the group’s founding in 1994, had been involved in supporting the preservation and restoration of, the year 2009 represented a coming of age for the group, as it was the first time PHLP actually acquired a property, with the intent to renovate it, put protective covenants on it, and sell it to a preservation-minded buyer. The property was 1008 Michigan Avenue in La Porte, originally built c. 1893 as the Parish Meeting House of the nearby St. Paul’s Episcopal Church.

By way of relating the history of the structure, with the rise of a growing Christian Science movement in the U.S. and in our area, the building passed into the hands of the Christian Scientists in 1908, who made the building their own church, for a period of over 80 years.  In 1920, the Christian Scientists remodeled the building, making it larger, and restyling it in a cross between the Greek and Colonial Revivals.   The modifications of the building were designed by noted local architect George Wood Allen and included, most notably, a fanlight above the double French front doors and similar “half round” window in the building’s portico, a majestic “Parthenon” style columned front, as well as colored Kokomo art glass panels throughout the entirety of the building’s windows. 

With the dissolution of the local Christian Science Congregation around 1991, the building came back into the possession of St. Paul’s Episcopal, who retained if for a period of 18 years, renting it out to various groups, at times, but the building was generally vacant for much of that time period.  After a period of division in the church, where some members wanted to tear the building down to create a parking lot, and others wanted to save it, with the assistance of PHLP, a renovation plan was developed with the approval of the Church, by Indiana Landmarks Community Preservation Specialist Bob Yapp (a one-time public TV house restoration “guru”). Despite best efforts, the church was unable to muster the resources to move the project forward, and PHLP acquired it, and the adjoining lot, in November of 2009, during a painful economic contraction.  The group improvements to the building included a new roof, repairing the original (1920) windows, painting the entire exterior of the structure (a good amount of it through the volunteer labor of PHLP members), and cleaning up the grounds around the building.  With the cavernous nature of the approximately 42 foot by 70 foot structure, and the difficult economic environment, it took a number of years before the group could finally find a buyer. However, the group was able to find the right buyer in the Christian group Puerta De Salvacion, who purchased 1008 Michigan Avenue in July of 2017.   PHLP was elated that the congregation volunteered to have the church on our last Christmas Candlelight Tour in 2019, for all to see how this stately, proud, and notable architectural structure has been put back to productive use.  (The congregation still occupies the building today, nearly 6 years later.) 

 

a look in the past

the present