The Story: The most prominent building on the west side of Lewiston’s downtown, the United Baptist Church was constructed in 1922 to better serve a growing membership on the site of the former Main Street Baptist Church. The United Baptist Church congregation had formed in 1917 from three smaller churches, following the trend towards unification in the Baptist faith. The building is in the English Gothic style, and the fifty-foot main entrance tower has welcomed the faithful since its construction.
The Threat: Like many urban churches, the United Baptist Church has experienced declining membership, and as a result of inadequate funding, the church building has been gravely imperiled by years of deferred maintenance. The congregation, which has dwindled in recent years to some 35 members, is strongly considering selling the property. A buyer would most likely demolish the church.
The Solution: The situation at United Baptist has only recently come to light, and as a result, solutions are in their infant stages. According to engineering estimates obtained by the church, repair of structural and roof damage would cost about one million dollars, but some preservationists question this estimate. With the increased visibility of the problems facing United Baptist, hopefully the religious and civic committees of Lewiston can come together to find new funding and new uses for the landmark church.