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The Journal Gazette

Saturday, May 19, 2018 1:00 am

Deed says family inherits church

Entangles efforts to reuse building in Richmond

JASON TRUITT | Palladium-Item, Richmond

RICHMOND – Work on determining the future of the former Reid Memorial Presbyterian Church building has been complicated a bit by the discovery of a clause in the original deed that wills the building to the descendants of its builder.

The 111-year-old church officially closed in November when its congregation was dissolved after membership fell into the 30s.

Since then, Whitewater Valley Presbytery has been bearing the expenses of insurance, utilities and security for the historic site while an administrative commission of five people works to determine what's to come for the building as well as the church office next door along North A Street.

“One of the things our commission is doing is deciding how to move forward on each of those properties,” said the Rev. Alan Thames, executive presbyter of the Whitewater Valley Presbytery.

“There's been some conversation with members of the community just about potential opportunities to reuse the building.”

But before any of the ideas from those conversations can become reality, the issue of the reversionary clause in the building's deed must be resolved. Thames said the clause was discovered before an appraisal of the property was obtained.

The deed states that if the church ever ceases to be known by the Reid Memorial name or ceases to be a church that provides worship for the Reid Memorial congregation for a period of 10 years, the building is to go to the heirs of Daniel Reid.

Reid Memorial Presbyterian opened in 1906 as a gift from former Richmond resident Daniel G. Reid in honor of his parents.

Reid had worked his way up in business, starting as a young man in Richmond and eventually becoming a New York City tycoon. He never forgot his hometown, and his donations led to the construction of the church as well as the first Reid Hospital.

When the church was built, Reid spared no expense. It's estimated he spent about $295,000, which would be the equivalent of more than $7.5 million today.

Inside, there are 62 stained-glass windows as well as furnishings designed by Tiffany Studios in New York. The building also boasts an organ built by Hook and Hastings House of Boston, and a set of 14 bells in its tower.

After finding out about the clause in the deed, the presbytery reached out to several of Reid's descendants and invited them to come to Richmond.

“We invited them to Richmond to see the building and learn a little more about their family heritage,” Thames said. “I think it was kind of news to them about the Reid legacy. They didn't know about the Reid health system or the church.”

The presbytery now is working with the family to resolve the issue of the reversionary clause and chart a course for the property's future.

“It would certainly be the presbytery's desire to see this important architectural treasure remain a resource to the community,” Thames said. “We'll see if we can get close to that.”