Wednesday, November 17, 1999

Moving time for old church


80-year-old chapel to be rolled back

BY RANDY McNUTT
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        FAIRFIELD — Even for non-believers, what will happen Monday at Valley Chapel Community Church should qualify as a moving experience.

        The city's oldest chapel will be moved — actually rolled back 100 feet — by Oswald Co. Inc. of Cincinnati. Then the company will start building a 4,000-square-foot addition on the church.

        “We're not leaving,” said the Rev. Bruce Seivers, Valley Chapel's pastor. “We're just moving the church back a bit on the same lot.”

        A church has been on the site, 6369 Dixie Highway (Ohio 4), in some form since 1866, he said.

        It will be moved because Walgreens is building a 15,000-square-foot drugstore on the north side of the property, next to the church near Ross Road.

        “That means we have to do something,” said Jay Nickell, a Fairfield resident, church deacon and chairman of Valley Chapel's property committee. “A curb cut has to be built on Ohio 4, and we have to move.

        “Most of our older members, including one who joined the church in 1932, haven't cared much for the idea. We've been working on the plan for a long time. But now that we have renovated the old school (Stockton School) next door, and plan to renovate the church, everybody is well satisfied.”

        The independent church, which has 110 members, has been a community landmark for decades. With its steeple and simple architecture, the church is familiar to motorists who pass it each day.

        Decades ago, the community around the church was called Stockton, in Fairfield Township. It is now a part of the city of Fairfield.

        “The present church building has been here since 1919,” Mr. Nickell said. “It has been added onto twice since then. But there has been a church here since the 1800s. We also own the old Stockton School, built in 1878. We're having church services inside it right now.”

        Oswald Co. will move Valley Chapel using large rollers, said company spokeswoman Bethany Rustic.

        “Our company has never moved one before, so this is a first for us,” she said. “We're working with Edwards Rigging and Moving. They'll put a lot of beams underneath the building and roll it — 100 feet back and 40 feet to the west.”

        All around the church, everything has changed. Not far away is a convenience store, strip shopping center, video store and bank.

        When the brick Stockton School closed for consolidation about 1948, it was the last old-fashioned school operating in Fairfield Township.

        “The school and the church have helped each other over the years,” said Fairfield historian Esther Benzing. “If there was a funeral at Valley Chapel, then the schoolchildren dismissed for 15 to 20 minutes to attend the service. The school and the church just looked right together.”

       



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