Salem Church on the southwest corner of Plymouth and Montgomery is planned to be
replaced with a new structure substantially renovated as funds are available. The church was built in 1901 under Rev. William G Braeckly to replace a nearly 50-year-old wood-frame church at the same location.
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The previous church was built in 1868 and called the Salem Evangelical United Brethren Church. It replaced the congregation’s original 1847 log church built a mile north of town on what is now SR331. The congregation was organized in 1845, and held its first meetings in the barn of Daniel Ringle (whose grave is the one in Bremen Cemetery with the very fancy carved stone tree).
With brick work already well under way on the back of the new building, the cornerstone of the new church was laid August 5, 1900. With speeches and songs in English and German, into the cornerstone was placed a 7 x 9 x 6 inch copper box containing:
- a small Bible
- a Book of Discipline of the church
- a book containing the names of all the church officers and members
- a copy of the Evangelical Messenger
- a copy of the church paper Christickle Botschafter (“Christian ambassador”)
- a copy of the Indiana Conference Journal of 1899
- copies of two Sunday school papers
- a copy of the Bremen Enquirer of Aug 3, 1900
- a picture of the old church (presented by Milton Koontz)
This was fairly common. Here is a church foundation deposit that also contains a copy of the Evangelical Messenger.
The current church was dedicated on January 18, 19, and 20 of 1901 at a cost just shy of $10,000. The Friday dedication was conducted by a South Bend minister in German. The Saturday and Sunday services were conducted in English.
As constructed by John F Weiss, it featured an auditorium of 50 by 56 feet “finished in quarter sawed oak and beautifully frescoed, and furnished with convenient pews also of quartered oak … and having a seating capacity of 500.” Two massive rising doors allowed the auditorium to be connected to the 20 by 30 foot classroom, allowing the church to hold 600. Heat was furnished by a Boynton hot air heating plant and light by gaslight from an “air gas light plant“.
In time, the interior of the church was rearranged somewhat, and a small addition was made on the east side for a stairwell that went up to the balcony in the sanctuary and a room behind it as well as to the bell tower. A large addition in 1953 on the south side provided several classrooms as well as childcare facilities. And a ramp was added to the west side for wheelchair access.
Today Salem Church is part of Bremen United Methodist Church, which incorporated Grace Church on the corner of Montgomery and Mill as a student center.