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Ormond Beach Observer Monday, Jul. 5, 2021 2 months ago

2 letters: Preserve 56. N. Beach St.

Readers weigh in on why they believe the city should delay the demolition of 56 N. Beach St. by six months.
by: Guest Writer

Union Church issue

Dear Editor:

As one of “we the people” in our Ormond Beach paradise, I presented a 15-minute overview of the Union Church issue at a recent civil discourse meeting this
past July 1. I then emailed this overview to the mayor and other Commission members.

My thrust was to advocate for a pause in the demolition of the church. A pause to give enough time for our community to get involved in helping to determine the best use of the church property.

I see that there was a predisposition by the city to demolish the church and replace it with a temporary parking lot, followed later by a civic center per the city workshop 18 months ago on Jan. 7, 2020. This was at the outset of the coronavirus pandemic. The ensuing horrific pandemic precluded any real citizen awareness and input on the church issue.

Now, we are here, to continue to register our concern and input, 18 months later, thanks to attenuation of the pandemic by the vaccines. A key question: Is it really best to demolish the church and convert it into a parking lot for the time being at the expense of sacrificing one of the notable links to our history? I think the best use of the church and property should be evaluated by a suitable historical urban consultant.

For example, such as Bender and Associates did for the MacDonald House several years ago. The public meetings they held really enabled enhanced citizen awareness and allowed for input by our citizens. Another question: Has a formal study been done on the need for additional parking? The report presented by the consultant during the workshop contained an inventory of available parking spaces in the area, but did not analyze a need for additional parking. We haven’t heard about any input from the city’s Quality of Life Board on this issue. Why not? I see great value in establishing a citizen-based committee with appropriate representatives including business and development interests in our city. 

Thanks to our mayor for sanctioning a special meeting this coming Tuesday, July 13 at 7 p.m at City hall. It is a wonderful opportunity for us to express our
views concerning the best use of the church property.

Jerry A. Valcik

Ormond Beach

Preserve the historic Ormond Union Church

Dear Editor:

The City Commission should reconsider their vote to demolish the historical and architectural significance church located at 56 N. Beach Street and allow six months for concerned citizens to find a way to preserve this piece of Ormond Beach history.

It was a mistake when the commission voted to remove it from the Ormond Beach Historic Landmarks list with ordinance No. 2019-13.

Rev. E.Y. Pinkerton started holding religious meetings in this area in 1876. In 1882, it grew into the Ormond Union Church, and a sanctuary was built in 1884-85. The remaining larger sanctuary was built here in 1963, with the older structure incorporated into the new one. A church has existed here for nearly 140 years.

On Jan. 9, 1891, when Ormond was less than 20 years old, a group of residents met in the Union Church to create a community service organization when the Village Improvement Association was formed by a group of women. In 1894, the Association purchased the property where the Anderson-Price Memorial Building now stands.

Ormond's library was moved from its Lincoln Avenue location to the building. Mrs. Elisha Pinkerton, widow of the town's first minister and founder of the Union Church was the librarian. In 1958, the VIA changed its name to the Ormond Beach Women's Club.

Historical figures from around the country such as industrialist John D. Rockefeller, the wives of presidents Ulysses S. Grant and Grover Cleveland have worshipped at the church.

The church and property are near other historical buildings and landmarks including the Ormond Yacht Club, Pilgrim’s Rest Church, and the site of Ormond Beach’s first school.

The Union church is an important piece of Ormond Beach history and is on the Ormond Beach Scenic loop and Trail and the Ormond Beach Historic trail and is listed on the Volusia County Ecotourism and Historic Walk Tour list. No historical account or tour of Ormond Beach would be complete without including it.

Tim Grigsby

Ormond Beach

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