Grants Get the Ball Rolling
Indiana Landmarks set things in motion at Beech Church with a grant from our Efroymson Family Endangered Places Fund to hire Ratio Architects to assess the church structure and prepare a rehabilitation cost study. A $10,000 grant from the Efroymson Family Fund of the Central Indiana Community Foundation (CICF) is paying for the most urgent repairs identified in the assessment, including foundation work, and improvements to the church’s deteriorated roof, windows, and wood siding.
The church is the last remaining public structure associated with the Mount Pleasant Beech community, the oldest free black settlement in the state. Free blacks made their way from North Carolina to Rush County long before the Civil War, drawn by the presence of a large antislavery Quaker population. They established the Beech Settlement 1828 and in 1832 created the African Methodist Episcopal Church, believed to be first A.M.E. church in Indiana. They built the surviving white frame church around 1865. Today, descendants of the original Beech Church families still gather for a reunion at “The Beech” every August, but the structure is otherwise seldom used.
Recently, the church received a grant from the Standiford H. Cox Foundation – another CICF fund – to match dollar for dollar all money raised to stabilize and restore the historic church. Complete restoration is expected cost around $200,000.
The church is also being nominated to the National Register of Historic Places, with additional support from the Cox Foundation and from Indiana Landmarks’ Partners in Preservation National Register grants program.
To learn more – including how to contribute to the project — contact J.P. Hall, director of Indiana Landmarks Eastern Regional Office, firstname.lastname@example.org, 317-822-7937, or Doug Jones, Beech Settlement descendant, email@example.com, 317-201-8215.
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