North Christian Church: Library board to meet in closed session to discuss strategy over donation

Mike Wolanin | The Republic An interior view of North Christian Church in Columbus, Ind., Monday, Sept. 26, 2022.

The Bartholomew County Library Board is planning to tour North Christian Church later this month as board members and library officials consider the possibility of turning the Modernist church into branch space for programming.

The seven-member board is expected to tour the building and “talk strategy” during an executive session meeting (closed to the public) on May 30, said Bartholomew County Library Director Jason Hatton, who emphasized that “no decisions at all have been made yet.”

The church congregation has offered to donate the property, located at 850 Tipton Lane on the north side of Columbus, to the library, Hatton said.

Currently, library officials are working on drafting a strategic plan for the property should they decide to accept the donation. Hatton said he tentatively expects the board to have a draft of the plan by mid- to late summer, with the board making a final decision in the fall.

The tour later this month seeks to help the board members get a sense of the building “because many of them have not been in the building before or it has been a long time,” Hatton said. The current owner of the property is 850 Tipton LLC, according to public real estate records. Ownership was transferred to the company from Columbus Capital Foundation this past September.

“We’re still really working through the strategic plan to really figure out what exactly it would be and look like,” Hatton said. “…(The executive meeting) is more to just give the board some more information to be able to look at things from a real estate perspective to see what we might want to in terms of a strategy.”

Completed in 1964, North Christian Church is one of 43 structures in Indiana that have received the National Historic Landmark designation, according to the National Park Service. The six-side church with a sloping roof was designed by Finnish-American architect Eero Saarinen, who also designed the Gateway Arch in St. Louis.

Church leaders laid off staff last year after nearly a decade of dwindling worship service, The Republic reported earlier.