Structural issues force destruction of building that started as Bace Theater

A Ford City landmark as well as a big part of Taft's History and its Christian community is being demolished.
The New Hope Temple on the 300 block of Harrison Street is being torn down because structural problems made it unsafe and with huge costs for repair and no guarantee for a long-term fix, according to a longtime church member and the pastor.

Beams in the ceiling of the structure, which dates back to at least 1941, began separating earlier this year and soil settlement is the apparent cause.

Pastor Joey Pittman discussed the demolition in a Facebook post Tuesday morning.

"At the first of the year we started noticing some problems with the structure and then in March we had some structural engineers come in and tell us to immediately lock the doors and do not allow anyone in," Pittman wrote.

A month later, the church was told by structural engineers it would cost $700,000 to repair the church but they couldn't guarantee it beyond 10 years because of sinking soil, Pittman wrote.

The Church has been holding worship services in a smaller social hall.

Before it was a church the building was a well known theater.

Historian and author Larry Peahl said, to the best of his knowledge, the building was built in the early 1940s.

"That building replaced the Roxy Theater which was at that location from 1937 to 1941, when it was destroyed in a fire on June 18," Peahl told the Taft Midway Driller. "The owner of the Roxy was Jesse Bace (also known for inventing a variable pitch propeller).  Bace previously owned the Ford City Theater across the street at 317 Harrison which was there from 1926 to 1930 (also destroyed in a fire)." 

Peahl said The Bace Theater cost $40,000 told build and had 700 seats when it opened on November 20 1941.

"I recall going to a few matinees there," said Peahl, a retired Taft College professor and administrator who co-authored books on Taft's history with Pete Gianopulos.

Bace died in 1945 and the theater closed three years later.

Sometime later, in the late 1950s, the The First Pentecostal Church of God moved in and worship services were held there until the mid-1070s.
The New Hope Temple opened there a few years later.

Pittman said the church is moving forward guided by faith.

"Well today starts another phase," he wrote on Facebook."We all hate to see the building demolished but God has an incredible plan for the path forward..we are just assured that the phase God is taking us into will be incredible."