The North Church Venue is a beautiful old church built in 1902 called First Christian Church. The church was functioning until some time in the 90s when it went under and the building sat empty for about 20 years. During that 20 year period, weather, erosion, and vandalism took place and a lot of the original stain glass was busted out. This caused several feet of standing water, mold, critters, and an almost complete cave-in to take place. We have also heard many stories of crazy parties that took place in the beginning years of abandonment!
In 2018-2019 the city of Muncie started the conversation of tearing the building down as it was becoming a hazard. That’s when Dave Jennings stepped in. He purchased the building from the city of Muncie for $100 (remember it didn’t look like it does now and Muncie was going to spend a lot more than $100 to tear it down) and was going to turn the building into his house for him and his two sons to live in.
After about a year of turning the building around, cleaning it up, adding a new roof, and a lot of labor, they realized that no one was going to get to enjoy this beautiful venue if they turned it into their house. So their mindset shifted for it to become a venue space. If you have been in the building before, you know how beautiful it is and how absolutely amazing their minds are to take something that was almost completely falling in and turn it into something as amazing as it is now.
One thing was extremely important to Dave when remodeling the building: he wanted to keep as much of the original church as possible. All of the original stain glass that was salvageable was able to be saved with a clear pane placed behind it. The main staircase that you walk up and down in the entry is made from the original pew benches from the church. The steps walking up to the stage are the original steps from the outside entry way that they took out. The support posts around our bartop are part of the original support beams of the original building that hadn’t rotted out, and so much more!
Every detail was completely thought out by Dave and his two sons Matthew and Michael. While trying to maintain different elements of the original church, they also brought in some of their own ideas! There is a small tribute to the city of Muncie where they placed Ball Jars in the walls that had holes. They found old railroad tracks and made them into handrails for the stairs. The old Macy’s jewelry counter is the bottom to our island upstairs. Part of the building had already fallen in and they turned it into our beautiful outdoor garden space. The old bell tower rope was turned into a rope swing for our couples to swing on on their big day. And of course, the boulders. So many people ask us about the big boulders that are around the venue! The rocks were brought in for two reasons: to help maintain the heating and air conditioning in an old building and the Jennings loved the idea of using the rocks for decor for their home! Once they decided it was going to be a venue, the front steps and doorway were already completed, so the rocks got to stay! So many unique ideas brought this old building back to life and made it what it is today.
In October 2020, the first wedding was held in the venue and the rest is history. By the summer of 2021 the Jennings family realized their dream of continuing to build up Muncie and the surrounding area with different construction ideas and sold The North Church Venue business to the Pyle family. In August 2021, the Pyle family officially took over and have been running the venue ever since! Greg and Jodie Pyle own University Avenue Dental near Ball State’s campus in Muncie. They have three children, Megan, Maddie (Devin), and Joel and one granddaughter, Tatum. Megan has been running the venue full time with side help from the rest of the family and our amazing staff. We love The North Church Venue and everything the Jennings family has done for the Muncie community. We can’t wait for you to see the building if you haven’t already!