West Lodi Union Church
Society Formed To Restore Historic Church
Article & Photos By Stephen J. Hartzell

See Also
History of the West Lodi Church
Compiled by the West Lodi Historical Society

On the south side of the small village of West Lodi there stands an extraordinary historical treasure. The West Lodi Union Church building was completed in 1845 within the bounds of the old Seneca Reservation, just 13 years after the tribe's departure. Somehow the structure has remained, and a group of concerned residents of this old town are determined to restore it.

The church's last trustee died in 1964, and the building was turned over to the Seneca County Historical Society in 1971. Unable to supply the means to do anything with the structure, the society began to discuss other options. Talk of possibly moving the building prompted the residents to band together to keep it on it's original location. Ultimately the West Lodi Historical Society was formed for this purpose. The new society was certified as a Non Profit Organization on March 28, 2002. Attorney Ron Smith has been doing all of the legal work. On May 19, 2002, at the church, the first meeting was held. Six trustees were elected, and they are Darla Benfer, Richard Jett Jr., H. R. Jett Sr., Dick Channing, Kate Jett and Diane Channing. A chairperson will be chosen from among these six.

One of the most extraordinary things about this old frame church is that it has never been emptied out and used for other purposes. No modern utility has ever been connected. The pews are still there, as are two late 1800's Victor stoves from Salem, Ohio, the pulpit, piano and two beautiful iron chandeliers made to hold kerosene lamps. To the rear of the building the outhouse is also intact.

In their restoration plans the top priority is to replace the roof. Tom Fries and his crew will supply the labor. Two new windows have been made by an Amish worker and are ready to install. A hand hewn beam has been donated to replace a rotting beam on the north side of the building. John Blakeman of Huron will help coordinate the landscaping in an effort to keep it authentic and similar to that which would have been used in the mid 1800's. Reed Township has agreed to put in a graval parking lot free of charge. There is much more to be done, but this group has really hit the ground running. Upon completion the group will rent the building for weddings, meetings, family reunions and other appropriate events.

Below are more pictures of this historic church as it appeared on May 19, 2002.

Some members of the newly formed West Lodi Historical Society

This simple cross was recently erected in front of the church

The outhouse is at the rear of the building.
Two windows in the back of the church were sealed off years ago
to prevent the congregation from being distracted by direct sunlight.

Mid 1800's masonary work filled in with a more modern day morter

Plaster repairs will need to be done in several areas

Stoves made by the Victor Stove Co. of Salem, Ohio, probably late 1800's,  provide the only source of heat.
The vent pipes run overhead and are joined at a common outlet in the center of the ceiling