LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) - It's been a combined 274 years that two homes have been sitting on the property of the Central Presbyterian Church in Lafayette. Now, their time is limited. In just 15 days, those homes could be gone forever.
"The congregation has come to a point where we realize, we're not going to care for these houses, and they need to come down for the future of the congregation, and for the safety of people around here," said Central Presbyterian Church Pastor Bill Smutz.
Smutz said the church has owned the two homes for about 30 years. He said while he loves historic buildings, they are dangerous and he believes tearing down the two homes is the best option.
"What bringing down the houses gives us the opportunity to do, is to realize some long term dreams of the congregation," said Smutz.
Those dreams include building a new entry way, new outdoor worship features, and eventually, a structure to connect the church's education center to its sanctuary.
Yet, Lafayette Historical Preservation Officer Brian Bugajski said he's seen plenty of historical structures demolished, and would hate to see these buildings go.
"There's just a lot of demolition going on," said Bugajski. "If we tear everything down, we're going to lose a part of our character."
The Lafayette Historic Preservation Commission said they want to create a historic district in downtown Lafayette. If they want those two homes preserved, they would have to move them to land owned by the city, which Smutz said, would cost about $482,000.
Not only is that an expensive job, but a time consuming one.
"It would require closing down a state highway, which is always a challenge, but then, particularly the Riefers house because of it's width, would require every utility pole and every tree on 8th street, south of South Street, come down," said Smutz.
The city's Historic Preservation Commission is scheduled to discuss establishing an interim protection of 120 days for the homes at their meeting Monday night.
In those 120 days, the city council can vote to establish or deny a historical district. If there is no decision, demolition of the two homes can proceed.
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