WEST BADEN SPRINGS — A building best known as the West Baden Colored Church is on this year’s listing of Historic Landmarks’ top 10 endangered historic structures. Photo courtesy of Brad Brown
WEST BADEN SPRINGS — A building best known as the West Baden Colored Church is on this year’s listing of Historic Landmarks’ top 10 endangered historic structures. Photo courtesy of Brad Brown
A historic church building in Orange County is included on this year’s Indiana Landmarks list of the 10 Most Endangered structures. 

The list, released annually, calls attention to Hoosier landmarks the organization has determined are in jeopardy

The Orange County building is at 8034 W. Sinclair St., West Baden. One-time West Baden Springs Hotel owner Lee Sinclair donated the land for the First Baptist Church, more often called the West Baden Springs Colored Baptist Church or the Negro Baptist Church.

In adding the structure to its most endangered listing, Historic Landmarks reported in a news release, “It was a more practical than philanthropic move that recognized the beneficial role such an institution would play in the lives of his (Sinclair’s) workforce — the African American waiters, bell-boys and porters recruited to work at the grand hotels (including the French Lick hotel).

“The congregation built a white frame Gothic Revival church in 1920. … During that segregated era, it became the thriving center of African American social and religious culture in French Lick and West Baden. By 1991, the congregation had dwindled to a single member, who donated the building to the West Baden Historical Society.”

Historic Landmarks further reported that, when the society disbanded in 2011, it gave the church to the town of West Baden. The town has tried to sell it, without success.

The news release reads, “The National Register-listed landmark needs a preservation-minded buyer who’ll give it a sustaining new purpose — a home, a business, a restaurant, a retail shop.”

Marsh Davis, president of Indiana Landmarks, said, “Our mission is to save meaningful places, and this is a list of 10 important places in the state that are in great danger of being lost. But they’re not lost causes. All have the potential for revival and reuse. These landmarks preserve connections to community heritage, and restoring them can spur broader revitalization.”

Indiana Landmarks uses the Most Endangered list to bring attention to the imperiled sites and find solutions that will ensure their preservation.

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