Northwest Kansas Today  Fall 2021 | Volume 3, Issue 2

The Gove City Community Building used to be the community's United Methodist Church.

From church to community building
Gove residents find new uses for old building

[GOVE] With rope in hand, Cheryl Remington was ready to ring in 2021 with the large bell at the top of the new Gove City Community Building. The bell sounded at midnight to mark a new beginning in a familiar structure that was once again filling community needs.

Gove Mayor Von Tuttle takes his place at the city council table.

City council meetings are now being held in what was previously the Gove United Methodist Church building’s fellowship hall, and community events such has high school reunions and dance rehearsals have taken place in the former sanctuary. Remington, Gove’s city clerk and county treasurer, now has an office where the church pastor once kept his desk.
By December, Castle Rock Fitness Center is expected to open a satellite location in what had been an overflow area at the back of the sanctuary. Its weight room will be in the old church kitchen.

Most importantly, Gove residents continue to have access to the sturdy basement room when they need an emergency storm shelter.

“We wanted to keep it accessible because we still used it as a shelter,” said Gove Mayor Von Tuttle. 

The building, constructed in 1948 and expanded later, was purchased by the City of Gove for $1,000 in the summer of 2019. Since then, volunteer labor and grant funding have made several improvements possible. The shelter, with its 16-inch thick concrete walls, is now fully handicapped accessible with a stairlift chair, a ramp and an egress window. There is a generator to power the building in the event of electrical failure and American Red Cross cots if people need to spend the night.

“One year we were without power for a week,” Remington said. “That was during the ice storm in 2007, and we had nowhere for people to go. This will be great. This will be a very accessible place. We have the generator, and we have a gas stove if we need to use it.”

Volunteers remove the old flooring in the former sanctuary. COURTESY PHOTO

Since the city acquired the building, a committee consisting of council members Roger Wilson and Jamie Bland, Remington, Cristy Tuttle, Susan Beesley, Kristin Angell, Dustin Henry and Leann Evans have determined what should be done next. Workdays have been announced, and whoever shows up works toward accomplishing the goal. Volunteers have painted most of the interior rooms, ripped up old flooring and wielded a sledgehammer to smash out a small set of concrete steps that were no longer needed.

“Any progress that happens I try to post on our Gove Community Facebook page,” Remington said. “People are excited about it. I think it’s great. We each have our talents. It’s been a big adventure for all of us.”

She said a volunteer who was tearing carpet off stairs to the basement uncovered the original wood floor.
“He didn’t have the heart to cover it up, so he redid the whole floor,” she said. “It’s just beautiful.”

Gove Mayor Von Tuttle and City Clerk Cheryl Remington stand in the community room of the Gove City Community Building. The rose window and pews behind remain from when the building was a United Methodist Church.

Professionals were hired to replace exterior stained-glass windows with clear glass, install flooring, upgrade heating and air systems and paint the outside of the building.

“We have done all of our business local. Anyone we can find in the community to do our work keeps the money at home,” Tuttle said. “One of the first things we did was the windows because these stained glass windows on the outside were pretty, but they weren’t efficient.”

Remington said if you stood near the windows, you could feel air coming through, so sponsors were sought to help cover the cost of replacing them. A row of stained-glass windows in an interior wall was maintained. A decorated circular window known as the rose window that had been at the front of the sanctuary has also remained. Installation of a thick plexiglass cover to weatherize the window was sponsored by past members of the church, Remington said.

Remington has applied for grant funding, and the project has received support from the Dane G. Hansen Foundation, Greater Northwest Kansas Community Foundation, Midwest Energy, Nex-Tech Wireless and several individual donors.

The whole building can be rented for $75, Remington said. Several events have already occurred there, including a district meeting for county treasurers, a water well company’s 40th anniversary observance, and family events.

“We’ve put at least $75,000 in the building,” Tuttle said. He said the next couple of projects are to convert lighting in the community room to LEDs and to erect a new lighted marquee sign out front. Friends and acquaintances of a former Gove resident who purchased the exterior stained glass windows from the building and plans to use them in a small chapel to be constructed in Dallas, are funding the marquee, Tuttle said.

Next up is the roof. Tuttle said last winter after a big snow, leaks appeared in the flat section of roof over the city council meeting area. A new leak has also developed over the fitness center room. Tuttle said the city’s insurance company is denying the claim, saying the damage predates the city’s ownership. The leaks have been patched, but Tuttle and Remington said they hope to be able to replace the roof before new ceiling tiles are installed.

Tuttle said the city doesn’t have funds for a new roof, so a financial campaign is likely.

On Halloween, families were served hotdogs and hamburgers in the council meeting room, and kids were able to trick or treat in the community room during an event that raised $600 in donations as a first step toward the new roof.

“We had people from the country and people from town that brought their candy dishes and just set them along, and the kids came through,” Remington said. “Every trick or treater that came in got a photo shot in front of a Halloween scene. We had a good time. We had a lot of people.”