Scott Mehring had his doubts the old church in Silver Spring Township would ever become the property of the Hogestown Heritage Committee.
Yet a brief ceremony Friday afternoon made it official when Harrisburg businessman Philip Dobson handed Mehring the deed to the church property at 6611 Carlisle Pike.
“We’re all ecstatic and happy,” said Mehring, chairman of the nonprofit committee. “Now the real work begins. Now we have to be really serious about the fundraising effort.”
Dobson had acquired the church when the property was listed for sale by the Cumberland County Sheriff in March. Rather than convert it into office space, Dobson offered to donate the church to the heritage committee which seeks to restore the building as a community and educational center.
HHC started in late 2013 as a grassroots effort to address blight in Hogestown village. One mission from the onset was to somehow acquire and restore the old church the township had condemned in 2014.
“We had a goal out in the extreme fringe,” Mehring said. “We had no idea how we were going to get it…if it was going to ever happen.”
The day of the sheriff sale, HHC had about $10,000 in donations to put toward a bid to acquire the church. Instead of a bidding war, Dobson agreed to buy the building and give it to the committee.
It took months to process the deed transfer and to schedule the ceremony Friday in front of the church. Township officials attended along with State Sen. Pat Vance (R-31).
“The deed will be filed by our attorney on Tuesday because of the holiday,” Mehring said. Once the paperwork is processed with the county, HHC can obtain property and liability insurance prior to launching an effort to repair the roof and bring the building up to code and into compliance.
“We need to get with the township to see what needs to be done,” Mehring said. He added it is believed the metal roof has developed a few leaks making its repair a priority before the onset of winter.
Restoration work to the front façade will include repointing the brick and replacing the modern thermal windows with wooden sash type windows with wavy glass, Mehring said. Dobson has donated $1,000 towards the repairs.
The goal is to restore half of the interior as a church complete with pews and an alter while installing a small office, kitchen and restroom in the other half of the building.
Constructed in 1858, the wood and brick building served as a church of convenience back when inclement weather made it too difficult for Hogestown area residents to travel to the Silver Spring Presbyterian Church.
While the church in Hogestown never really had a name, it was deeded over to Presbyterians who lived in the area and at one point it served as a church, community center and Grange lounge. The building stopped being useful as a house of worship after better transportation solved the problem of traveling in bad weather.
The last day of services was Dec. 3, 1996 and then it was decommissioned from working church status. The building was then converted into a private residence and was occupied up until 2011 when the couple living there abandoned the property.
5K run scheduled
The Hogestown Heritage Committee has scheduled its annual Restore the Church 5K Run for 11 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 8 at Willow Mill Park in Silver Spring Township.
Registration for the run begins at 9 a.m. that day at the park located at 80 Willow Mill Road, committee chairman Scott Mehring said. Walkers are also welcome to participate.
Those interested can preregister online by logging onto www.eventbright.com and searching for Restore the Church 5K. The cost to register is $20 all the way up to the evening of Friday, Oct. 7. The fee is $25 the day of the event.
Those wanting a paper flier to preregister can visit the township office at 8 Flowers Drive or email Mehring at firstname.lastname@example.org for a copy.
All proceeds raised from the 5K Run will go towards the restoration, repair and upkeep of the Historic Hogestown Church at 6611 Carlisle Pike, Mehring said.
Participants will be divided into seven different age groups ranging from 18 and under to 70 and older. Medals will be awarded to the top three finishers, both male and female, of each age group, Mehring said. He added the top overall male and female will each receive a trophy.