If These Walls Could Tell: Second Baptist Church

Indiana Landmarks and Storytelling Arts of Indiana present a tale of landmark and community revival.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

4 to 5 p.m.
Cook Theater, Indiana Landmarks Center

The newest installment of the If These Walls Could Tell series features Indianapolis storyteller Celestine Bloomfield presenting the restoration saga of New Albany’s Second Baptist Church, aka Town Clock Church, on Sunday, February 24, in Indianapolis. Second Baptist Church won the Cook Cup for Outstanding Restoration in 2018 for its transformation of the Underground Railroad landmark.

Storytelling Arts of Indiana and Indiana Landmarks commissioned the story, “Timeless: The Story of Town Clock Church,” for If These Walls Could Tell, an annual program sponsored by Frank and Katrina Basile. The original storytelling series focuses on a historic place in Indiana and the people who built, lived in, worked at, patronized and restored the landmark.

The performance takes place from 4-5 p.m. in Cook Theater at Indiana Landmarks Center, 1201 Central Avenue in Indianapolis. Tickets cost $15 in advance and $20 at the door, and are available online at storytellingarts.org or by calling 317-232-1882.

Second Presbyterian Church, a predominantly white congregation, built the church from 1849 to 1852. The evangelical congregation ministered to African American residents as well as those escaping slavery in the south, a dangerous business. While Indiana was a free state, in New Albany the city’s major industries depended on trade with the south and pro-slavery forces dominated. The steeple, visible across the Ohio River in Louisville, acted as a beacon to escaping slaves, steering them to a place where they could get medical care and assistance traveling further north. The Presbyterians sold the building in 1889 to Second Baptist, an African American congregation familiar with the building’s history as a haven. In “Timeless: The Story of Town Clock Church,” Bloomfield invites you to meet Sarah Lucas, Amanda Finney, Elizabeth McIntosh, Rose Carter and others instrumental to the church’s story.

Courtesy David Barksdale
Photo by Brent Moore

A retired media specialist and full-time professional storyteller born and raised in Gary, Bloomfield was the first Indiana storyteller to be featured at the Hoosier Storytelling Festival in 1988. These days, you will find her telling stories at day-camps throughout Marion County as well as during Ghost Stories at Crown Hill Cemetery. She is a past recipient of the Frank Basile Emerging Stories Fellowship and the host of Jabberwocky.

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