The Baumgartner Church

Reverend David Baumgartner was a native of Bern, Switzerland. In 1839 at age 73, he and his wife came here to join other members of his family. Rallying other Swiss settlers, they established the first Mennonite fellowship in Indiana.

The church is of half-timber construction with hand hewn poplar and oak timbers. Between the posts is clay, into which is kneaded animal hairs and straw to keep it from cracking. The kneading was done by having cattle or other animals walk over the concoction. The smoothed clay walls were whitewashed and finished with troweled plaster. The plaster remains visible to this day.

The tongue and groove floor of the women's coat room (nursery) and beaded ceiling is original, as is the ceiling in the entrance where men hung their hats and wraps. The rest of the church was recreated due to excessive alterations throughout the life of the structure. The windows are new, but they are made of hand blown glass like the originals. The current benches are patterned after an original and were made and donated by a local furniture factory.

Upon entering the church, the men and women separated, and the men sat on one side and the ladies on the other. On the side for ladies and babies, one less bench was needed as there were usually mothers in the nursery/ladies cloak room. The church had no bell nor steeple as these were reminiscent of Switzerland's state churches which had persecuted their ancestors.

The Swiss Heritage Society thanks Roger Fox’s family for their gracious donation of the Baumgartner Church which was moved to the Village in 1988 from its former home at 3906 West, 500 South.