AUBURN, Ind. (WANE) — The Meese Chapel has stood in Auburn for over 120 years.

And while most buildings only leave their foundations when demolished, the Chapel is set to move.

The chapel being repainted around 1920

“We would like to work with you (DeKalb County Airport), to find a new home for Meese Chapel because we know it can’t stay there,” said John Bry, former DeKalb County historian.

Bry has been at the helm of the project to move the chapel since the DeKalb County Airport bought the land it sits on and the church that once filled the chapel left.

The airport has been very cooperative in giving time to find a solution, but they do have a deadline.

According to Bry, if the chapel isn’t moved by the end of the year it will be demolished, but it’s a piece of history he would love to save.

“It’s a unique piece of not only DeKalb county history but Indiana history,” Bry said.

A photo of Rev. William Meese

The Chapel was named and dedicated to Rev. William Meese, a man who loved God and loved marrying couples.

“During his lifetime he is credited with marrying the most people in DeKalb county, if not the state of Indiana,” Bry said. “He was so famous and so well known that he actually started matrimonial reunions in Waterloo and Auburn in the late 19th and early 20th century, and they were huge draws.”

The matrimonial reunions consisted of hundreds of people married by Rev. Meese and their popularity gave way to Meese starting the first national matrimony association, or as Bry puts it a matrimony club.

“He created the first known matrimony club in the world, and he members all across the county and the world,” Bry said.

Despite the impact Meese had, he has been largely forgotten.

“He passed away in Auburn in the early 1900s and this is the only building that was ever named in his honor,” Bry said.

Moving the chapel is not an easy task, and the thing needed most is someone who wants to take the building on.

Right now Bry and his team are working on finding professional movers to get a cost estimate.

“The cost is not the distance sometimes that it’s moved, it’s the cost of picking it up and setting it down,” Bry said. “The cost can range from $15,000 to $20,000 but that’s still cheaper than trying to build a new building of the same size and of the same quality of building materials.”

It is in excellent condition, with additions of a kitchen, dining hall, and restrooms that were additions in the 1950 and 60s. The building could be converted to a home, a wedding chapel, or other small business or commercial uses. The additions could also be removed leaving the original one room sanctuary for relocation.

DeKalb County Historian Facebook Post

Bry has some experience with the process as he was a part of the Jackson Township Hall being moved and repurposed to keep the history alive.

If you are interested in acquiring the chapel you are asked to send the DeKalb County Historian Facebook page a message.