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Historic First United Methodist Church at 30th and Euclid Avenue in Cleveland to go up for auction

Posted at 7:53 AM, Jan 26, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-16 11:46:25-04

Euclid Avenue between Playhouse Square and the Cleveland Clinic is pretty much a mix these days of commercial buildings, two dimensional non-descript structures that with their brick and 1970s facades, blend together for those traveling this stretch of road.

One can still find glimpses into the past when this stretch was the envy of the world known as “Millionaires Row.” A place where old money called home and built homes to reflect their status in the world and built institutions of worship equally as grand.

One such place was First United Methodist Church at E. 30th Street and Euclid. A magnificent late Gothic Revival Church built in 1905 to be as much a showplace in a neighborhood once filled equally ornate mansions as a place of worship.

As the mansions disappeared replaced by office buildings and parking lots (and even WEWS-TV which now sits across the street from the church on the site of what once was the grand Andrews Mansion, home of former John D. Rockefeller partner Samuel Andrews) the church survived.

The former First United Methodist Church at E. 30th and Euclid stands as a symbol of the life once lived around it, built in 1905 as a place of worship worthy of its location in the heart of what was known as Millionaire’s Row.

In 2010 though the church merged with Epworth-Euclid United Methodist Church into their University Circle building to form University Circle United Methodist Church.

The church though was immediately occupied by Euclid Avenue Congregational Church following a fire that destroyed their historic church on the Cleveland Clinic campus in 2010.

They left in 2014 for a permanent building in South Euclid leaving the 30th & Euclid church, which is on the National Register of Historic Places empty and on the market at one point for $1.2 million dollars.

With no takers the church owners, University Circle UMC has partnered with Chartwell Real Estate Auctions and Hanna Commercial Real Estate to place the property on the auction block with a published reserve price of $250,000.

"This is going to be a live open outcry auction it's going to take place on February 22nd right here on site at 11 a.m.,” said auctioneer Michael Berland of Hanna Commercial Real Estate.

“In order to bid a buyer must have a certified or cashier’s check with them for $17,500 that will be their initial earnest money deposit that they will deposit at the time of the auction if they are the winning bidder.”

The property consists of the 24,000 square foot church and sanctuary on two floors and a 28,000 square foot school on four floors along with a fenced parking lot and gated entrances from East 30th Street and Prospect Avenue. The property also offers a full kitchen and cafeteria offering redevelopment opportunities for a number of uses.

“This could be used as a religious facility, a school property it could be converted into an entertainment venue of sorts whether it be a restaurant, nightclub, bar type situation lot of possibilities here,” Berland said.

Dr. Kenneth Chalker first came to the church as its pastor and 1986 and took over at a time when the future of the church was very much in question. He built up the congregation and bought the church more time.

While others may look at the church and see stone, glass and wood; he sees people.

"I love this building, I’m invested in it,” Rev. Chalker said. “The people that have gathered here, remarkable people who have enabled this church to thrive from 1986 until now.”

“I’m invested in this building because what that congregation has done over the years to protect this space,” he said. 

“And so doing this project in terms of finding a new way to use it now it’s being done from a point of investment and encouragement and excitement about the future rather than a sense of despair that somehow the past is gone."

Potential buyers will have the opportunity to tour the property during three Open House Inspection dates on Thursdays, February 1, 8 and 15 from 10:00 a .m. to noon.

This will lead up to the 11 a.m. Thursday, February 22 On-Site Real Estate Auction. 

Registration for the auction will begin at 10 A.M. on Thursday.