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The Prairie Grove Cemetery Chapel

This little white wood-frame church has sat in the Prairie Grove cemetery in Waynedale for at least 150 years. The building, which is located on Old Trail Road in Fort Wayne, Indiana is one of the oldest buildings in the city. It is believed to have been built in 1858 by the United Brethren Church, a denomination that built a lot of rural churches in the midwest during the mid nineteenth century.

The church has been abandoned for many years, but it once hosted regular church services. My grandfather and some friends visited the church as teenagers because the pastor lived in their neighborhood back in the late 1930's. Grandpa told me he was shocked to see his neighbor, the minister, open the services by running through the little chapel screaming and waving his arms. The other churchgoers told grandpa that the pastor was chasing the devil out! Grandpa and his friends left. The devil never dared show up at their churches, so they couldn't imagine why anyone would go to a church that the Devil had to be chased from!

In the 1990s a small non-denominational congregation used the church for a while, then abandoned it. The cemetery maintains the building, but it is no longer used for anything. The last congregation to use the building put the letters in the sign with a statement of faith in the Gospel, but the letters have since fallen off.

In early 2008, vandals set the chapel on fire and caused damage to the area around the pulpit. The back of the building and part of the roof are covered in plywood awaiting possible repairs. I hope that the Prairie Grove Cemetery does repair the little church. They are looking into the costs now.

UPDATE: In November, 2008 a local organization called Deeds of Compassion begun the restoration of the church, starting with replacement of the roof. The old brick chimney on the south side of the church has also been removed. As of the beginning of 2011, the restoration is complete!

I began photographing this place in the late 1990's when I used a photograph of it in my graduation project from art school.




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