Updated Langeler Memorial Building is rededicated

From left, Judy Gunby Brittingham, Harrison Langeler, Dr. Nevins Todd, Mayor Jake Day, Maggie Gillespie, George White and Sylvia Langeler.

A building that originally served as Fellowship Hall for Asbury Methodist Church was updated and recently rededicated by Wicomico Presbyterian Church, which now owns the building. Wicomico Presbyterian is Salisbury’s oldest continuously active congregation, established in 1683 when the Rev. Francis Makemie arrived on lower Delmarva from Ireland to minister to Presbyterians located along the Wicomico River.

Wicomico Presbyterian has been at its current location on Broad Street, adjacent to the Langeler Building, since 1838. It acquired the Langeler building, constructed of Port Deposit granite in 1928, more recently when its previous owner, Allen Memorial Baptist Church, moved from downtown to Snow Hill Road.

Wicomico Presbyterian had been interested in acquiring the property since 2000. The purchase was approved in 2003 and, in 2007, a bequest from the estate of Ruth Twilley Langeler was used to close the deal. It was renamed the Langeler Memorial Building.

Retired Salisbury attorney George White and retired special education teacher Dianne Langeler co-chaired the committee overseeing the renovations.

“With its history of ownership for over 180 years, this structure could really be considered an ecumenical building, and it is our hope it will have a new life contributing to the ministry of our church and its service to the community,” said White at the rededication ceremony.

The building has, in addition to serving as a gathering space for Wicomico Presbyterian, already serves many community needs.

“Makemie Hall has hosted a number of concerts, the community emergency shelter and a designated Red Cross shelter, the Makemie Men’s Breakfast, a meeting of the New Castle Presbytery, and a number of dinners and wedding receptions,” said White. “Portions of the second floor are used by the handbells and Susan Zimmer’s music department, and also by Martha Swain’s Girl Scout troop.”

In addition, five nonprofit organizations are based in second- and third-floor rooms. Among them is the Migrant Clinicians Network, which is a national organization that tackles poverty, migration and health by providing bridge case management, support, technical assistance and professional development to clinicians in community health centers serving migrant populations.

The Early American Industry Association is also housed in the building, and the Remedy Church offices are located on the upper floors.

Originally designed to serve as Sunday School classrooms the upper floor renovations have been carefully designed to retain the original design of the hallways and heavy wooden doors with frosted glass windows. The doors still bear gold leaf decals labels describing the age level of students who used them decades ago. The effect is reminiscent of mid-20th century school hallways.

The main auditorium on the first floor of the Langeler Building has a seating capacity of 340, with a new commercial kitchen. Additional conference and committee rooms are located on the second floor, and the third floor has a small chapel and meditation room.

“Members of our congregation use the kitchen to prepare meals for the Joseph House each month, as well as meals for the men’s shelter for several weeks,” White said.

Improvements made to the building include a separate water service, the kitchen, new restrooms throughout the building, carpeting and central air conditioning on the upper floors, fire alarms, new entry doors, a new three-phase electrical service that includes a sprinkler system, elevator tower and elevator.

Nevins Todd, Dianne Langeler, the Rev. Maggie Gillespie, Sylvia Langeler and George White.

“During recent years, new windows were installed in the first story, the roof replaced and a card access system was installed at the north entrance for the security of our tenants,” White said. “The last phase of improvements being studied would include a parking lot west of the sanctuary with a compatible entrance to the main building to serve both our church as well as present and future users of the building.”

Committee members include Dr. Nevins Todd, who originally served as chairman; Peter Alexander, Nancy Althaus, Judy Gunby Brittingham (who served as co-chair before moving to Richmond), Ann Hayman, Larry Brown, Harold Huffington, Dianne Langeler (who serves as co-chair), Harrison Langeler, Sylvia Langeler, Larry McCauley, Nelson Malone, Denny Mogan and Sue Reddish.

The project has continued through four pastors, including the current pastor, Maggie Gillespie.

The Langeler Building is located within Salisbury’s Arts & Entertainment District.

“God works in us and through us,” said White, “and we are blessed with a building that has the potential to serve our church family and community for generations to come.”

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