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Final move for Timmons Temple coming Monday, April 20

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There was snow on the ground when Tilton & Sons of Carthage began moving Timmons temple in February using  hydraulic dollies fitted with 80 wheels. On Monday, Tilton plans to  set the historic building on footings in Silver Springs Park so that a developer can begin work on an apartment project.

There was snow on the ground when Tilton & Sons of Carthage began moving Timmons temple in February using hydraulic dollies fitted with 80 wheels. On Monday, Tilton plans to set the historic building on footings in Silver Springs Park so that a developer can begin work on an apartment project.

Professional movers Tilton & Sons, from Carthage, plan to begin the building’s 100-foot move by noon, using special remote-controlled hydraulic dollies (including 80 wheels) powered by a generator which travels with structure.

This is the third planned move for the 444,000-lb. stone structure, which stood at the corner of Webster Street and Texas Avenue, serving as a church for more than 80 years. After the building was sold and slated for demolition, the non-profit group Save Timmons Temple formed to preserve, relocate and renovate the structure. Movement began March 26 with U-turn, and continued March 31 when the building moved about 2 blocks, into Silver Springs Park. Excavation began nearby on the building’s future foundation, nestled between the park’s basketball court and ball field, and the Jordan Creek Greenway.

Orren Tilton, owner of Tilton & Sons, said new footings are now set and the building is ready to move into its final position.

“Chains will be put back into place to steer the dollies, and it will roll over positioned steel plates to the footing,” said Tilton. “When in position, the wheels will be removed, as well as some of the steel (reinforcements), and cribbing will be put into place as the foundation is built up around the building.”

Infill and renovation will follow in the months to come. Once complete, Timmons Temple will be used as an event center, owned and operated by the Springfield-Greene County Park Board.

Timmons Temple was built in 1932 and served Springfield’s African-American community for more than 80 years. The building’s exterior walls are 16-inch solid stone and concrete, inlaid with ornate rock sunburst patterns and built, in part, from rocks found in nearby Jordan Creek. By 2014, the Timmons Temple congregation had outgrown the building and sold it to Greenway Studios, LLC. Save Timmons Temple worked closely with Greenway Studios to preserve the building as the developer prepared to build micro-efficiency apartments on the site.

The Timmons Temple relocation and reconstruction is financed entirely by donations and in-kind labor to the non-profit group, Save Timmons Temple, with the fund managed by the Community Foundation of the Ozarks. The move, excavation and new foundation alone cost $105,000. Significant contributions from Greenway Studios, LLC, Tilton & Sons, and the City of Springfield, as well as in-kind and private donations, have helped make the move possible.

Fundraising efforts continue for the building’s infill and renovation, including doors, sidewalk, restroom, ramp, window repair, tuck pointing and more. The Building and Construction Trade Council of Springfield and Vicinity and local contractors have pledged to donate labor and some materials, and Great Southern Bank recently pledged to fund the cost of a new roof. But several thousand dollars more are needed to complete the $250,000 project. To make a donation, visit SaveTimmonsTemple.org

George Freeman is a veteran journalist and photographer. An award-winning writer, editor and columnist in Springfield, Mo., with more than 50 years experience. His preference is for positive and uplifting stories about people, places, traditions and trends that make the Ozarks one of the most livable regions anywhere. A member of the Garden Writers Association of America, he is a past-president of the Society of Professional Journalists of Southwest Missouri, the Kansas and Ohio AP societies; a board member of Friends of the Garden and a member of the Rotary Club of Springfield. In 1976, he traveled to India as a member of a Rotary Foundation Group Study Exchange Team.

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