Montrose Methodist Church has been here at 17th and College Avenue since the last 1800’s.

The City of Terre Haute condemned the building nearly five years ago.

But, that didn’t stop a local church from buying it two years ago.

However, several months into cleaning it up, a piece of paper brought that work to a screeching halt.

Today, they’re still making some wonder– is faith enough to get their plans moving forward again.

This 19-08 picture shows Montrose Methodist Church standing majestically at 17th and College Avenue in Terre Haute.

This is the church today.

But, it’s not just “time” that’s taken a toll on the structure.

The roof is leaking, it’s a frequent target of vandals and Stephanie Lampton says critters make it unsafe for neighborhood kids.

“Just keep an eye out and make sure there’s no animals in the yard so the kids don’t think the raccoon’s a cat,” says Stephanie Lampton, who lives near the church.

Despite being an eyesore, Take it By Force Ministries in Terre Haute bought the church in 2015.

John Russell is the ministry’s treasurer.

He says he and volunteers started cleaning the inside.

But, a statement from Vigo County, which included $8,400.00 in delinquent taxes, forced them to stop.

Russell also says more research revealed another bombshell.

“They were charging tax on a full, unusable structure rather than a condemned structure, ” says John Russell.

The city of Terre Haute condemned the church on August 15, 2012.

But, Russell says he discovered that Harrison Township Assessor still had the appraisal value for the structure at nearly $300,000.

“They told me if I hired somebody to appraise the building they’d entertain it” says Russell.
 
Although Russell says the assessor’s office won’t work with him. he says the City of Terre Haute will.

In fact, the city’s engineer says they’d prefer to bring the building back– not bulldoze it.

“The city has $300,000 budgeted annually for the demolition of unsafe structures. “I haven’t gotten an estimate on this church to demolish it but it would probably be at the magnitude of about 100-thousand dollars,” explains Chuck Ennis, city engineer for the City of Terre Haute.

Chuck Ennis says old buildings have great value– and Russell agrees.

But, with a growing tax bill, Is faith enough to bring his church’s plan to fruition?

“For me, faith is always enough.  If it’s God’s will, it will happen,” Russell says.

Harrison Township Appraisal handles this section of Vigo County.

I recently talked to the assessor, Don Pruitt, by phone.

He says a religious exemption would greatly reduce the taxes.

But, John Russell with Take it By Force Ministries says, the assessor told him that religious services must be held in the church to qualify for the exemption, which is why they were cleaning it up.

Still, Russell says he’s not giving up and he has faith that Take It By Force Ministries will succeed– no matter how long it takes.