Some hope to preserve historic church

By Ben Watson - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - A for sale sign outside the old Union Avenue United Methodist Church has touched off a heated debate about whether the historic building is destined for renovations or the wrecking ball.

When June West, Executive Director of Memphis Heritage, looks at the church, she sees a building worth fighting fore.

"It's got great architecture that you don't see anymore," West said.  "The columns, the brick work, it's got one of the best acoustic systems in town."

However, the for sale sign out front worries West.  She said her sources told her that CVS Pharmacy will buy the building from church officials.

West is afraid the historic structure will eventually be demolished to make way for a new store.

"I understand the church's reasons," West said.  "They are merging with St. Luke.  They were down to so few people in their congregation that they could not afford to maintain the building."

Church officials said that the congregation was going through an emotional time and any comments on the issue would come at a later date.

Memphis Heritage staffers have been talking with potential investors in the hopes that someone might buy the church and fix it up instead of destroying it.

"Our hope has always been to come up with an alternative plan for selling the church to different groups that would maintain the church," West said.

Officials said it was too early to reveal the names of investors who have expressed an interest in renovating the old church.

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