Pinhook Community Church: 168 years old and still turning heads


Photo and information from Phyllis Marks (click on photo to enlarge)

Try to fathom the number of travelers — via horse, automobile, truck — who rounded that curve in Pinhook and admired that perfect little country church sitting on a hill.

It’s remarkable, in a wonderful way, that the little church stands as beautiful as ever to entice passers-by, local and not. It would be fun to know how many times the Pinhook church has been photographed and painted.

One of its restorers, Phyllis Marks, offers the church’s heritage:

The little white clapboard church standing beside the curve which was once an Indian trail, next to the Pinhook Cemetery, is a testament to the faith of pioneers who came to northern Indiana so long ago.

Carpenters McLung and Nelson Barnard built the church from hand-hewn walnut logs in 1847 on land donated by Wm. Garwood, who said, “I give this land for the purpose of a church. It shall be used as a church forever and forever.” Lester Loomis and his brother hauled stone used in the foundation.

Rev. J.J. Cooper, born in Lancaster County, PA, a circuit rider, preached the first sermon in the new Methodist Episcopal Church. He was shared by Westville and Door Village and only stayed for a short time. Other ministers followed until 1854. Folks started leaving the area when a railroad was built further west. As the congregation became smaller and could no longer support a full-time minister, the church was closed. It was open and closed many times until 1968, when it was deeded to the Pinhook Cemetery Association by the Methodist Conference.

In 1977, members of the cemetery association talked of destroying the church and using the land for additional burial plots. The pleas of a community-minded couple were accepted by the cemetery board and a stay was granted.

In 1987, the restoration began by Julia Alt and Phyllis Marks. With the help of family, community volunteers, LaPorte County work release prisoners, Westville Correctional Center inmates, local businesses, merchants and untold donors who are on the list of those who gave help to restore the little church, it is once again the pride of the Pinhook community. A piano donated by the Westville Masonic Lodge stands beside the raised altar area with carved railing. Long rugs woven of blue jean denim, crisp white curtains and Dutch blue woodwork decorate the candle-lit sanctuary. This church, now the oldest church in LaPorte County, has no denominational affiliation.

The restored church is a labor of love for Julia Alt and Phyllis Marks, who with their husbands, Vernon and Tom, have spearheaded the restoration.

On Sept. 24, 2009, the little church was given the prestigious honor of being placed on the National Register.

The historic church is available for weddings and tours from May 1 through the end of October. Memorial services may be held for a loved one to be buried at the cemetery throughout the year.

For more information, contact Phyllis Marks at 219-785-4347, or Linda Redman at 219-785-2309.

6 Responses to “Pinhook Community Church: 168 years old and still turning heads”

  1. Steve King

    Feb 12. 2015

    Great feature story. . .a wonderful local iconic landmark
    we all can treasure. Gratitude to all who kept it well.

    Reply to this comment
  2. Guyla Blind

    Feb 12. 2015

    The Pinhook Community Church, has been and always be near and dear in my heart. I lived across the highway from the church and I always thought it would be neat to return it into a church again. I lived there for 30 years. So glad to see that it has been restored and hope it will stay that way. Thanks to Phyllis Marks and Julia Alt for all of their efforts. Guyla

    Reply to this comment
  3. Carol M. Humphrey

    Oct 04. 2016

    Last week, my husband and I did a bit if family genealogy trabelling.
    My paternal Grandmother’s ancestors are found here. We had visiited the LaPorte County Museum. We were led to the Pinhook Cemetary and found several dozen ancestors and numerous extended tombstones with the family name Herrold. Amazed, we compared notes and located my 4x and 5x Great grandfathers.A group if Herrold left La Porte County in the 1800’s to settle Polk County, Iowa near Des Moines. In fact they founded a town named Herrold.My father’s mother was Winnetta’s Herrold Haywood. Jacob and Joseph Herrold are our ancestors.
    We looked in the windows of the beautiful church. I have wanted to gather ancestry information yo document my religious heritage. I feel blessed.
    Thank you for the remarkable restoration.

    Reply to this comment
    • I am related to the Jerrold from laporte also Jacob herrol 1804 - 1877 was my 4 x grandfather.

      Jan 06. 2017

      I have many Jerrold’s in pinhook cemetery

      Reply to this comment
  4. Beverly Bullington

    Jan 06. 2017

    Jacob Herrold 1804 – 1877 who was married to Sarah Minton is my 4x grandfather

    Reply to this comment
  5. Suzanne Barnard Smith

    Oct 09. 2017

    I have Barnard’s & Herrold’s at this cemetery also. Cassius Harold Barnard and his wife Ada Herrold Barnard are my great-grandparents.

    Reply to this comment

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