Saturday, July 12, 2008

Tyson Temple - Versailles, Indiana

During these lovely economic times when air travel has become more expensive, I've been trying to explore a little more locally. A recent trip to Southern Indiana prompted an architect friend to recommend that I check the United Methodist Church in Versailles, IN (for those not familiar with the town - the city has adopted the Hoosier pronunciation, thus we say Ver-sales - how quaint). I had no address and wondered if I would be able to find it. One look at the 'skyline' of Versailles and I had no doubt. 100 feet above the ground stood the cast aluminum spire.

As you get closer you notice the copper roof - only the second of its kind in the United States at the time. The Art Deco building was designed by Odle, McGuire & Schook of Indianapolis with the ideas that Uncle Jim (as local philanthropist James Tyson liked to be called) brought back from around the world. It was built at a cost of $150,000 and was dedicated in May 1937.

There are no nails in the building; it is constructed of stone, concrete, steel, terra cotta, brick, glazed and glass brick; with the elimination of wood except for furnishings. It's called Tyson "Temple" because hammers were not heard in its construction just as when Israel built its temple.

Sadly we arrived late in the evening and didn't get a chance to look inside but apparently the attention to detail continues throughout the interior. I'll tell you all about that after my next trip...

Special thanks to Karen at Tyson United Methodist Church for supplying me with more details.

4 Responses to “Tyson Temple - Versailles, Indiana”

Kevin said...
July 15, 2008 at 8:44 PM

Great pic. I have seen this church before, but I also missed the interior.

Jonathan (Jack) Demaree said...
October 19, 2008 at 3:51 PM

The preacher lives 1st house to the West. I'm sure he would let you see the inside.... It is a shame but it must be locked when not in use. Jack Demaree from Versailles

Anonymous said...
December 24, 2009 at 7:26 PM

I understand that the story about Mr. Tyson is quite interesting. If my information is correct, he worked for Walgreens Corporation of Chicago many years ago and left a foundation to support projects in his home town of Versailles IN. I believe that he gave funds to build the library and the high school also, and his foundation is supporting town projects even today. What a great Art Deco/Moderne building this church is!! If anyone gets to photograph the interior, please post them on this site. We would all love to see them. For all of you folks who have never been to Versailles, this building stands out in stark contrast to the other buildings in the small town. Joe Wood

Jamie said...
November 18, 2010 at 9:56 PM

I would be VERY interested in learning more history on the Tyson Temple. My Great Grandfather William Franklin Walters was the pastor of this church in 1930's when it was called Calvary Methodist Episcopal Church, until he died in Feb 1936.
It would be a wonderful historical project for someone that is local - it is truly a beautiful building

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