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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
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Copyright © 2002 Express Publishing Inc.
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For the week of July 10 - 16, 2002


Save church campaign reaches goal

Home sought for historic structure

Express Staff Writer

Efforts to save Ketchum’s 120-year-old Congregational Church, more recently a popular pizza restaurant and most recently an out-of-place fixture at the city’s park and ride lot, are creeping closer to success.

Fund-raising goals for a church relocation and restoration project were met this month when two and a half years of donations and pledges exceeded $100,000.

A $5,000 donation from Mr. and Mrs. Edsel Ford II put the campaign over the top. Edsel Ford II, a local resident, is the great grandson of Henry Ford, who invented the world’s first automobile and founded the Ford Motor Co.

However, a permanent home for the old building has not yet been found, and, since October 1999, it has collected dust at the city’s park and ride lot on Saddle Road, which city officials have vowed to clean this summer.

Floyd McCracken and Dick Meyer, both former presidents of the Ketchum-Sun Valley Historical Society, said they will present plans Monday, July 15, to the Ketchum City Council to permanently move the church to the city-owned Forest Service Park.

The pair will propose that the church be placed where an old garage is now, near the center of the park.

"It would open onto the courtyard of the museum complex and serve as a meeting place for art shows, talks of all types, slide show presentations, dance classes, art classes, marriages and theater," McCracken said. "A stage will be constructed, and there will be 80 to 100 chairs."

McCracken’s vision for the church also includes old photos of early Ketchum, including its local mining and ranching heritage.

But there is resistance to the concept of possibly tarnishing an intact historic block with the old church.

"Over my dead body," remarked Vicky Graves, who chairs a committee charged with overseeing the park. The six-member Master Plan Committee for the Forest Service Park voted unanimously two years ago that the church should not be moved amidst the 1930s-era park buildings, Graves said.

"It’s called the Forest Service Park for the historic nature of that place," Graves said.

And putting the old church on any city property could be difficult, Mayor Ed Simon said.

"There doesn’t seem to be much unanimity in the community to save it," he said. "I’m not against saving it, but there’s nowhere to put it."

Meyer and McCracken negotiated two years ago with city officials to place the church in a cul-de-sac at the south end of East Avenue. However, neighboring property owners have not unanimously supported the idea, and the city could face legal snags related to vacating public right-of-way there.

McCracken said he and Meyer have worked out several other alternatives, "but we don’t want to say them now."

Simon reiterated that saving the old building will be up to the people of Ketchum.

"You know how they say, ‘If there’s a will, there’s a way.’ Well if there isn’t a way, it’s because there isn’t a will," he said.


The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.