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Old Church closer to new life


A sign thanking the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust sits outside The Old Church community arts center in Post Falls, which received a $150,000 grant to finish refurbishing the historic building into an arts center. 
 (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)
A sign thanking the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust sits outside The Old Church community arts center in Post Falls, which received a $150,000 grant to finish refurbishing the historic building into an arts center. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)
Robin Heflin Correspondent

With the award of a $150,000 grant and a generous local donation, The Old Church at Fourth and William is close to becoming the cultural center its supporters envision.

In the fall, Community Building Partners Inc., the nonprofit that formed to renovate the former church, learned it had been awarded a $150,000 M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust Grant, said Susan Jacklin, president of the nonprofit board. The grant, which requires matching funds, is distributed in two $75,000 increments. Setting a deadline of Dec. 1, Community Building Partners launched into overdrive to raise the matching funds.

By the end of December, Community Building Partners had raised the first $75,000 needed and this week received a check for the first half of the Murdock grant. But also in December, Gary Schneidmiller of Coldwell Banker Schneidmiller Realty gave the nonprofit a check for $50,000. Combined with $10,000 in other donations, “we’re like $15,000 away from getting the second $75,000,” Jacklin said. She estimated that by the end of February, the organization would probably have its needed matching funds.

“We’ve been building the building to open it. Now it’s going to be alive with people,” Jacklin said. Supporters have been working since 1996 on renovating the building to turn it into a cultural arts and community center, a place to hold chamber music performances, light theater productions, art and exercise classes and even weddings.

The Murdock grant will allow the nonprofit to complete the first floor, including the performance hall that was formerly the church sanctuary, and possibly the second floor by May. Already a wedding has been booked in The Old Church, and on Mother’s Day weekend there will be a public celebration there.

The Old Church was formed from two churches, a Presbyterian one built in 1890 and a Methodist-Episcopal one built in 1898. The two buildings were joined at the present location in 1920. The Methodist-Episcopal congregation later moved to Rathdrum while the Presbyterians continued to worship there until 1980, when the building was abandoned due to disrepair.

The church was slated for demolition when contractor John Rodkey thought it was worth saving. Jacklin volunteered to help save the church building and founded Community Building Partners.

The Old Church is important to Post Falls’ history, Jacklin said. “This is where Frederick Post, our founder, worshipped.”

She added that The Old Church no longer has any religious affiliation, but will become an arts, cultural and community center, complete with conference rooms and a full kitchen. “The possibilities are unlimited,” Jacklin said.

The exterior of The Old Church has been restored to replicate what it looked like in 1920, right down to the gray paint. The interior, however, is a mix of old and new.

Jacklin estimated Community Building Partners still needs another $250,000-$300,000 to complete the renovation. There are still opportunities to donate money to name rooms or purchase pavers.

For more information, call (208) 457-8950.

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