Bartholomew Library votes to accept North Christian Church building

The Bartholomew County Public Library has an agreement in place to take possession of the former North Christian Church off of National Road. The library board approved the acquisition yesterday.

According to the library, the board voted yesterday to accept the donation of the church building and the campus at 850 Tipton Lane. The campus includes the building itself, designed by renowned architect Eero Saarinen before his death in 1961 and built in 1964. The landscape was designed by Dan Kiley. The church is part of the city’s National Historic Landmark status for modern architecture.

The library board thanked the church’s former congregation for the donation and the Columbus Capital Foundation which has acted in a caretaker role, owning the property during the process of the donation to the library system.

According to a recent strategic study ,the library is at capacity in its current spaces, without the ability to add more programs or services, . The library anticipates renovation costs will be needed, but those are expected to be less than the cost of a new building construction. The library will work to have fundraising and seek grants to upgrade the building, but Jason Hatton, the library director, also said it is possible that a bond could be needed for capital projects in the future.

Hatton estimated that the former church will not be fully operational for library use for about five years. But the outdoor spaces could be used more quickly including a summer reading program, with some of the building being used for small programs and performances.

The library is celebrating its 125th anniversary this year and it already has two architecturally significant buildings, including the Cleo Rogers Memorial Library designed by I.M. Pei and the Hope branch library designed by Deborah Burke.

Photo courtesy of Hadley Fruits for Landmark Columbus Foundation.