Church History

History of the Christian Spiritualist Temple

We are the largest independent Spiritualist Church in Ohio. Our congregation is housed in the historic former Westminster Presbyterian Church building, built in 1857.

The original church was founded in 1854 as the Westminster Presbyterian Church. Josiah Smith was installed as the first minister on August 5, 1854. The church was built between 1856 and 1857, and dedicated on August 23, 1857. The church cost $15,000.

Built in the Norman Romanesque Revival style, the church's architecture was one of the first exterior uses of English terra cotta trim in the US. The stained glass windows are from Belgium. The front door is walnut with iron strap hinges. The woodwork on the pulpit is stained wood. The organ pipes are stenciled metal, with speakers for the current organ concealed behind the pipes.

The addition of the Fellowship Hall and upstairs apartment were completed before 1864, and was initially used as a residence for the minister that replaced Rev. Smith, who passed on May 29, 1863.

Ebenezer Barcus, Jr. was a California gold miner and returned to Columbus to be noted in the 1860 census. Barcus formed several businesses in Columbus with his brother James. Barcus also became a stock trader. He purchased railroad stock in the 1890s. He visited a Spiritualist medium in Columbus in the late 1890s to seek advice on selling his railroad stock. The medium advised that he delay selling the stock to obtain a high profit. Barcus said he would take her advice and buy her a church if he made a substantial profit. He sold the stock in 1901 and purchased the church for $8,000.

On July 9, 1902, Barcus transferred the deed to the church to three trustees of the church with the understanding that it would remain a Spiritualist Church. If it was not used as a Spiritualist Church for a term of two years, the deed would transfer to the National Spiritualist Association. The Principles of the National Spiritualist Association are on the wall in the entrance.

Barcus died April 4, 1903, with his funeral held at the Spiritualist Church. His portrait resides in the entrance way to the church. The other painting was contributed to the church by Randy Barcus and Bonnie Bodnar. Randy Barcus is a distant relative of Ebenezer Barcus, Jr.

Rev. Carol Boyd facilitated the inclusion of the church in the National Register of Historical Places on September 24, 2001.