American Legion looking to buy Gilman Methodist Church

Published: Jun. 10, 2023 at 8:12 AM EDT
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GILMAN, Vt. (WCAX) - The Gilman Methodist Church is for sale after more than a decade without a congregation. Church leaders are being picky about who they sell it to, but say they may have found the right fit.

“It was an extraordinarily difficult decision to decide to sell this church, but it had to be done,” Debbie Thomas, a trustee for the church said.

Thomas says maintaining the building became too expensive, so they listed it for what she says was a high price. They had several interested buyers, including one who flew up from Pennsylvania offering close to asking.

“We made the decision we wanted this church to remain a chapel,” Thomas said. “That was the right thing to do and right use for this building, so we declined that offer.”

That’s when the American Legion stepped in with a plan to make the building a non-denominational church and community space, in honor of Rev. George L. Fox. Fox served as a minister at the church and was already decorated veteran from World War I.

“When the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, George said to his wife Isador, ‘I have to go back, those men are going to need me,’” Corrinna Colson with the American Legion Auxiliary Dept. said.

Tragically, Fox went down on the U.S.S. Dorchester in 1943, along with 902 other service men, after he and the three other chaplains on board gave up their life vests.

“Rabbi Goode did not look for a Jewish soldier. George Fox did not look for a Methodist soldier. It really was a selfless act,” Colson said when explaining why the church would be non-denominational. The American Legion wants to keep it a space for everyone. They also plan to include a small museum of artifacts from Fox’s life, including medals.

“From everything I’ve heard, he was kind and generous and a man of faith,” Thomas said.

Despite church trustees not looking to profit on the sale, it still isn’t cheap. They’re only asking the American Legion to cover the cost of maintenance and the sale, but they’ll have to invest more after assuming ownership.

“It needs a new roof. It needs handicap access. It needs a lot of work,” Thomas said.

“This is a piece of Vermont’s history we cannot let go,” Colson adds.

The American Legion needs to raise $30,000 just to buy the building and even more to make needed repairs after that. Donations can be mailed to:

Rev. George L. Fox Memorial Chapel

170 Hutchins Farm Rd.

East Hardwick, VT 05836