SHEFFIELD – Windows and other historic artifacts removed for their salvage value, responsibility for the future of the Grace Episcopal Church building at 700 N. Montgomery Avenue has been conveyed to The Colbert Historical Landmarks Foundation. The building, which last operated as a wedding chapel until it deteriorated beyond reasonable repair, was purchased from the owners by a Muscle Shoals entity earlier this year. Sources told The Quad-Cities Daily that, once the turn-of-the-century stained glass windows and other valuables were removed for their salvage value, the building was to be demolished, its masonry recycled and sold. This was the only option, as it was suggested that complete restoration of the church, one of the oldest in The Shoals, could cost upward of a million dollars.
However, last month The Colbert County Historical Landmarks Foundation, was given the church, as it stands in ruins today.
Here is the press release from The Foundation:
“Colbert Historical Landmarks Foundation Seeks to Preserve Sheffield’s Old Grace Church
Sheffield The Colbert County Historical Landmarks Foundation has officially taken possession of the church building that formerly served the congregation of Grace Episcopal Church and in more recent years operated as the Grace Wedding Chapel. It was donated by David and Mary Lord to the preservation organization.
The historic church, located on North Montgomery Avenue, along with First United Methodist Church and a substantial number of fine Victorian homes located in proximity, comprise one of the town’s most well-defined neighborhoods. North Montgomery Avenue is reflective of the town’s early history and is part of Sheffield’s National Register Historic District.
The church, built in 1903, was in need of repair and was no longer being used by its owners, when it was purchased by David and Mary Lord for the purpose of dismantling it and selling the architectural salvage, including the stained glass windows. Preliminary investigation for demolition of the building produced indications that the building is secure and that its preservation is possible. The Lords then agreed to donate the building (as is) to the local preservation organization. The mission of CCHLF is to help preserve historic structures in Colbert County and to educate the public about their importance. The Alabama Historical Commission assisted in the transfer of the property.
Lanny Perry, CCHLF Chairman remarked, “Once a landmark of this nature is lost, it is irreplaceable. We hope that the building can be saved and will continue to serve the community.”
As a first step, the Colbert County Historical Landmarks Foundation has set a meeting for October 25 at 6:00 p.m. in the Sheffield Public Library meeting room. At this time, the condition of the building will be discussed. Immediate measures will be needed to continue its stabilization and a means of taking donations toward that end will be established. The public is encouraged to attend this meeting and to offer input. A show of support is needed so that plans may progress.
For more information call 256- 383-4204 or 256-383-4401. “
The Quad-Cities Daily took photographs of the former Grace Episcopal Church before it was sold. We present some of them here.
Please note that ALL photographs are copyrighted by The Quad-Cities Daily, with the exception of those of Ninon Parker, who may also hold a copyright on her work.