BRADENTON — With the roar of a demolition machine in the background, the owners of the landmark Bradenton Revival Temple moved closer to the end of a nearly 10-year odyssey.
Melton Little and Scott Kallins, the building owners, presented the building’s marble dedication plaque to Mark Barnebey, president of the Manatee Historical Society, on Friday.
“We appreciate the opportunity to have this artifact and photos to preserve for future generations,” Barnebey said at the ceremony under the giant banyan tree next to the 76-year-old building at 725 Manatee Ave. W.
Workers with Forristall Enterprises of Palmetto began tearing down the distinctive stone building Tuesday.
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More than half of the back of the building was lying in a pile of wooden beams and stone Friday as a huge truck carried away some of the rubble.
Little and Kallins also presented Barnebey with historical photographs of parishioners found in the building when they purchased it in 2001.
Along with the photographs, the two Palmetto attorneys had a professional photographer take pictures of the exterior and interior before demolition started.
The 95 digital photographs were on a compact disk so the Historical Society will have a record of the architecture, Little said.
Barnebey said it was important to document the building’s history because religious institutions were the gathering places for the community in the early part of last century.
Friday’s presentation culminated Little and Kallins’ attempt of more than a year to have the structure demolished.
When they purchased the former church and seminary in 2001, they planned to convert it into offices for their law firm.
After two years of study, the attorneys determined the building was not suitable and would be too costly to renovate, so they put the property up for sale.
The property was not marketable with the building, according to real estate professionals, and they sought permission from the city to tear it down in May 2008, Little said.
After several delays, the city council approved the demolition permit about three weeks ago.
“We are not happy about this,” Little said. “We wish there was an alternative, but it has become difficult to make the building safe.”
He said vagrants would break into the building to spend the night, and it was costing them money to replace locks and windows on a regular basis.
At the front of the church, Howard Fitzpatrick, who sits most days on the sidewalk offering to pray with anyone who stops, said he was disappointed with the churches in Manatee.
“I feel sorry the churches could not pull themselves together to save God’s house,” Fitzpatrick said. “Nobody cared, so it came down. They lost, God didn’t lose.”