ENGLEWOOD — No one should be surprised today that Englewood’s Historic Green Street Church is no longer at its longtime home on West Green Street — if all went well early this morning.
Possibly some motorists driving this morning along South Indiana Avenue (State Road 776), across from the fire station and Englewood’s chamber of commerce, will be surprised to see the church sitting on what had been vacant property yesterday at the historic Lemon Bay Cemetery.
A crew for the family business, Johnson & Sons based in Manatee County, which specializes in house and historic structure moving, spent Monday making last-minute preparations to ready the historic church for its 1-mile journey to the cemetery. The moving crew planned to return to the site at midnight and start moving the church at 2 a.m. this morning. Johnson & Sons is the same contractor that moved the Bass Cookie House to Cedar Point Park in 2013 and saved the historic Hermitage House on Manasota Key from falling into the Gulf in the 1990s.
The church was to travel east on West Green Street, then south on Indiana Avenue (S.R. 776) to the cemetery at snail’s pace, between 2-5 mph. The move itself was expected to take four hours or more. A Comcast crew and two Florida Power & Light crews accompanied the church, removing then reconnecting overhead utility lines along the route. Off-duty Sarasota County deputies provided security along the route.
The 90-year-old Green Street Church, now owned and maintained by the Lemon Bay Historical Society, is Englewood’s first house of worship. The first Methodist service was held in it on April 5, 1928, according to a Sarasota County historic plaque explaining the church’s significance to the Englewood community.
Originally, the church was built on Magnolia Avenue, between West Green and Dearborn streets, before making its first move. The church sat for decades on property the Historical Society leased from the Crosspoint Church of the Nazarene on West Green Street.
The Historical Society bought property at the cemetery so the church can now have a “forever home.” Historical Society members spent two years or more working on the move — as well as raising the money for the move, which is expected to cost $200,000 or more when all the expenses are tabulated. The nonprofit group has $170,000 set aside and is still fundraising.
“I feel relieved,” Historical Society president Charlie Hicks said Monday afternoon. “I am glad to see it come to an end.”
The church will remain lifted up on temporary supports until a stem-wall foundation can be constructed. Englewood’s Leo Pfliger Construction, which is overseeing the entire moving project for the Historical Society, removed the church’s steeple for its journey and will be replacing it once the church is settled in its new home.
For more information, visit lemonbayhistory.com or call 941-473-8491. Donations for the church move can be made online or mailed to Lemon Bay Historical Society, P.O. Box 1245, Englewood FL 34295.