The Ninth Street Missionary Baptist Church is the new owner of the Gill Building and three adjacent lots on Tennessee Street.
Their prayers are answered.
Members of the Ninth Street Missionary Baptist Church closed a deal Monday afternoon to buy four lots of commercial-zoned property at the southwest corner of Ninth and Tennessee streets.
The purchase includes the Gill Building, 901 Tenn., which will become an outlet for community outreach activities, said the Rev. Rene Brown, the church's pastor. He recited Bible verses that charge believers to teach the world about God's commandments.
``That's what we're trying to do,'' said Brown, whose church already runs a Midweek Bible Institute. ``We're trying to teach people.''
Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but the properties are valued for property-tax purposes at $508,000. The Gill Building alone is valued at $260,300.
``We paid, but it's worth it,'' Brown said. ``For us, there was no limit. We needed the property. We had to have the property. Price was no issue. We wanted to expand.''
Brown said the church needed only the Gill Building, but the other properties -- a rental home, 905 Tenn.; a parking lot; and a fourplex at 913 Tenn. -- were included in the transaction. The church remains undecided about the future of the rental properties, which are zoned for commercial use.
The church plans to remain at 847 Ohio, its home for the past 134 years, but the congregation has been looking for expansion space for several months. About 300 members of the congregation even conducted a march service around an adjacent building Nov. 23, seeking divine intervention.
A day later, the Gill property went on the market. Recent weeks have been spent ironing out the details.
``I'm ecstatic,'' Brown said.
The sellers, Robert and Pauline Harrison, were pleased to turn over the property to an established community organization, said Philip Gill Harrison, their son.
Philip Harrison, broker for Harrison & Harrison Land Development Inc., said the Gill Building had been a part of his family for 60 years, serving as the cornerstone of the real estate agency his grandfather founded along Massachusetts Street in 1924.
Times change, owners change.
``I feel better about it being this use than about anything else I can think of,'' said Philip Harrison, who now works out of his home on St. Andrews Drive. ``It is the closing of an era, of officing in that area, but times have changed. The type of business we do does not require a `public' office, because so much is done by computer these days.''
Brown said the church had no specific timeline for the property, although he hoped to be moving computers into the Gill Building within a few weeks.
-- Mark Fagan's phone message number is 832-7188. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.