Nestled on a main thoroughfare in Richmond sits a national treasure – one that’s been empty since 2017. The historic Reid Memorial Presbyterian Church was recently named to the Indiana Landmarks 10 Most Endangered list for the second consecutive year. The church was built in 1906 and includes stained glass and fixtures designed by New York’s Tiffany family.
The church was financed by Richmond businessman Daniel Reid, but due to ongoing repairs that are needed, the building faces an uncertain future.
In the late 19th Century, Daniel Reid amassed America’s largest tin plate empire, eventually selling it to J.P. Morgan for $18 million.
“He was already wealthy, but he was instantly fabulously wealthy and right about that time is when we started getting some correspondence back here about him wanting to build this church,” said Sue King, an archivist with the Morrisson Reeves Library.
The church became one that Reid would spare no expense to build.
“This church is almost like a time capsule to the turn of the century,” says Jessie Russett with Indiana Landmarks. “It represents something that we do not see often in the preservation field, let alone in regular life. It’s an example of a building that is completely intact with the Lewis Comfort Tiffany (glass).”
Louis Comfort Tiffany was the son of iconic jeweler Charles Tiffany. But instead of joining his father, the younger Tiffany made his name as a pioneer in the art of glass making.
“He was the creator of a completely new technology and style when he created the Tiffany glass,” said Russett. “So you can never technically recreate a Tiffany piece of glass. He did die with the technology. He trained people but they don’t know exactly how to do it, so we will never have another memorial that is Tiffany like this. It will never happen again.”
The stained glass windows at Reid Memorial Church feature the now iconic Tiffany glass.
“One of the things that makes them Tiffany windows is the fact that you’ve got layers of glass,” said King. “If you look at the faces and the hands, the detail is painted on.”
Complementing the Tiffany windows are a dramatic fan-vaulted ceiling and historic Hook & Hastings organ.
Another unique feature of the 114-year-old building is the grand bell tower with 14 church bells that are roughly about five feet each in height. But the bells have stopped ringing since Reid Memorial closed its doors to worship in 2017. Now, the clock is ticking.
Indiana Landmarks says the building needs $4.6 million in repairs to fully address deferred maintenance, halt further damage, and upgrade building systems.
“If the church ceases to be a Presbyterian church for a period of 10 years, then the property will revert back to the heirs (of Daniel Reid),” said King. “When the lawyers started looking at it when the church actually shut down, that’s when they discovered it.”
Russett says people from across the country come to Richmond to see the church, particularly the Tiffany windows.
“It is rare to find buildings like this in our area and have a community that is still highly dedicated to preserving this building. It is truly a gem for historic preservation.”