The former First Congregational Church in Hannibal is close to having new owners. Steve Boltinghouse, vice president of Hannibal Community Theatre which owns the building, reports an agreement has been reached to sell the structure to a Quincy, Ill., couple that intends to renovate the property.
Boltinghouse did not reveal the couple's identity, noting that the sale closing has not yet taken place. He declined to reveal the sale price, but in December Boltinghouse said the asking price was $15,000.
The sale of the structure at Sixth and Lyon came together recently. Boltinghouse reports the initial inquiry came just last month. The theater group's VP noted this is not the same group that had expressed interest previously.
"That was the first nibble from them (Quincy couple) and they bit," he said.
The building, which became the Hannibal Community Theatre's home in September 2000, was declared a nuisance by the city in October 2009. Falling bricks off its northeast corner and the loss of shingles from the south side of the building's roof led to the dangerous structure declaration. According to Boltinghouse, the structure went on the real estate market shortly after the theater group received the notification.
Boltinghouse still remembers the impact the notice had.
"We were in late rehearsals for a show we were getting ready to do and we had to cancel the show at that point," he said.
In late 2011, Building Inspector Joey Burnham and Damon Jaeger of the Hannibal Fire Department conducted an interior inspection of the one-time church. Both men indicated it was still structurally sound.
On the move
Since 2009 the theater group has been on the move.
"We'll be nomads for a while until something comes up and we can find a permanent place," said Boltinghouse.
While the theater group has not used the former church for some time, it still has items stored there that will have to be removed.
"We're going to have to rent somewhere for storage," said Boltinghouse.
Boltinghouse views the sale of the building with mixed emotions.
"During the time we could perform there it was a really good building. It has a really nice stage. Everything was pretty good," he said. "Now it's a big relief to have that off our hands."
According to information in "History of Marion County 1884," the First Congregational Church of Hannibal had the structure built in 1870. The 1875-76 Hannibal City Directory said the structure had recently been completed at a cost of $75,000.
The building was sold to local Catholics for $16,500 on Oct. 9, 1880. It was formally dedicated the Immaculate Conception Church on April 24, 1881.
The building continued to be a church until 1954 when it was bought by Emmette J. Shields Post 55. It remained the post's home until its present building on Highway MM was built.
Page 2 of 2 - (Dominic Genetti of the Courier-Post contributed to this story.)