Sanctuary Preserved in Gibbon

GIBBON, Neb.- The Gibbon Heritage Center offers visitors a chance to experience a historic church sanctuary.

We recently stopped at the heritage center to find out more about the building. It turns out there are a couple of different rooms in the center that feature historic pieces from the area. But the center also is preserving the old Baptist church that was dedicated in 1889. It's one of the oldest church structures in Buffalo County. The church is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

"There were 26 original founding members," Gibbon Heritage Center spokesperson Jean Widdowson said. "This structure cost $4,500 to build. This is the original sanctuary. I think the 26 original members built this with such simplicity, because if you look at the position of the windows and the doors, it's all so symmetric." Brick for the church came from a local brickyard. Lumber was shipped in from Omaha, and the former church features original seating. "They were used opera seats from an opera house in Chicago," Widdowson said. "The stained glass windows, many of the panes are not original, although we have a few. The ceiling fans came from a bakery in Gibbon that closed in the 1940's. And, we have the original pulpit that was built for this church by a member."

The church is not used for worship anymore, as the congregation has moved on to a new building. When the congregation moved, a local man bought the building to be used as a historic center. The purpose of the former sanctuary is to house artifacts from other churches in the community. It's sort of a museum, and a memorial. "I did the research on the 26 founders of the church," Widdowson said. "I felt like I knew them in a way. I felt the connection, I can feel them walking here. I think they are pleased that what they did so many years ago, still stands today."