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Demolition under way of Lebanon Church in New London

Demolition begins Tuesday of the old Lebanon Church in New London. Community members gathered to watch the historic building come down. Property owner Peace Lutheran Church found no buyers for the building, which would have needed a million dollars in renovations, and the decision was made to demolish it. (Tribune photo by Kyle Rozendaal)

By Kyle Rozendaal

NEW LONDON — The demolition Tuesday of the old Lebanon Church attracted a crowd of community members who wanted to watch and document the end of the historic New London landmark.

Peace Lutheran Church owns the old church property and the Rev. Keith Pearson, their senior pastor, was there to watch the beginning of the demolition.

“It’s sad to see it go but the renovations needed to be done to get the church back in working shape would have cost close to $1 million and the cost of operating the church would have been close to $50,000 per year,” said Pearson. “We just didn’t have anyone willing to pay that much money for an old broken building, even if it is historic.”

Stai Trucking and Excavating began demolition on Tuesday morning.

The historic millstone that was used as a decorative piece in front of the church was purchased by the city of New London and moved by the excavation company to a different location in New London.

The historic cabins that were on the property were also purchased by a private party last week and moved off the premises.

The asbestos and black mold had been removed from the church in May to prepare the church for a safe and clean demolition.

According to a spokesman with Stai Trucking and Excavating, the company should finish tearing down the building sometime today if everything goes according to plan.