MEROM, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — Merom Camp and Retreat Center, nestled in the small town of Merom, Indiana, is a historic landmark, rooted in Indiana history.

“In 1858, the property and the contract was made that there would be a college developed in Merom, Indiana,” Beth Reed, Board Member at Merom Camp and Retreat Center said.

That college was Union Christian College.

“It started in 1860 with their first class. And their first class graduated in 1864,” Reed added.

The mission was to offer equal educational opportunities to both men and women for a liberal arts education, including theology.

“This was the first college in Indiana that allowed women to receive the same degree as a man,” Reed said.

The facility and grounds have remained a staple in the community.

“Over the years, it went from being Union Christian College into Merom Conference Center into Merom Institute and now it is Merom Camp and Retreat Center,” Reed said.

Reed also noted, the campus, made up of 27 acres, fell on hard times during the restrictions of the Covid-19 pandemic. “Covid practically destroyed the camp because, for two years, they could not hold camp, but yet all of our expenses continued whether there was camp here or not.”

Today, the goal of the Board is to fully restore the historic buildings and to improve the campus property. To enhance and preserve the history while developing new programs and services to better serve the community and surrounding areas.

“We’re rebuilding and we can rebuild and be bigger and better than we ever were,” Reed said.

Helping with the rebuilding phase comes a new executive director, Dennis Flaherty.

Something Flaherty said her learned early in his career, “You don’t want to be one of the best-kept secrets in the county and we seem to be that way.”

Flaherty said the possibilities are endless as to what the center can offer. 2 auditoriums, conference rooms, cottages, and dorm rooms as well as a full-service dining hall.

“My vision is to see this place really hopping and moving. Other than the summer camps programs, this place being used 12 months out of the year,” he said.

Preserving history comes with a price tag. The historical buildings are in desperate need of repairs. From tuckpointing, plumbing, and HVAC repairs to painting buildings to bring them back to what they once were.

Reed’s ultimate hope? “To save the historic building for my county. This is our history. This was the first county seat. This is how Sullivan County developed, and we have to save this history for the future.”

For anyone who has ever attended camp at the Merom Camp and Retreat Center, they talk about ‘catching the Merom spirit.” Several past campers serve on the board.

The Merom Camp and Retreat Center is in need of volunteers, time, and skills, as well as financial contributions to continue restoring the historic buildings to their full potential. Donations can be made by mailing a check to PO Box 127, Merom, IN 47861 or by visiting the facility in person. Or by clicking here. On the website, you will also find a list to their Amazon wish list.