the interior of the Elmburg Methodist/Christian Church in Shelby County,
about 30 miles east-northeast of Louisville. I say "Methodist/Christian"
because according to one long-time resident I spoke with, that's just what
it was. The Methodists would use the church building one Sunday, the
Christians (I don't know if they were Disciples of Christ, or what) would
use the building the next Sunday. They would trade off that way, every
I can't verify that particular story; but my father,
a retired Methodist minister, said it was not an uncommon practice years
ago for rural congregations of different denominations to share a church
building--especially when the individual congregations were small.
Today, the village of Elmburg has no more than 20
inhabitants. And while there is still a small, thriving Baptist church
just up the road, the Methodist/Christian church building hasn't been used
for decades. It sits deserted and dilapidated. The sun shines
through big holes in the roof. Plaster litters the floor, and graffiti
has been spray-painted on the walls. Untrimmed evergreen shrubbery
grows to the size of trees out front, and almost hides the church from the
view of traffic that rolls by on KY 43.
Some day, I suppose, the old building will burn to the
ground and that will be that.
a violent thunderstorm with high winds in our area in May 1996. Several barns
and a number of trees were blown down. Passing through Elmburg a few
days later, I saw where the roof and one of the side walls of the old church
I finally got around to going back and checking the place
out in December. I took a few pictures and poked around a little.
The structure of the building was wrecked, but the concrete foundation
was still in surprisingly good shape. The old church is situated on
a triangular lot of about half-an-acre. There is no cemetery that I
Here's what puzzles me about the old church: I've
lived in this end of the county for more than 15 years, and I have never
seen anyone else exhibit the least interest in this building or the land
it stands on--even though it sits smack beside a fairly busy highway. It
might as well be invisible. People around here that I ask know
very little, if anything, about the place.
All I can figure is that the people who attended the
church are all long gone. And perhaps because the building was shared
by two separate congregations, ownership of the property is now, years later,
completely clouded. Maybe this place no longer belongs to