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Future of Historic Bonanzaville Church - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

Future of Historic Bonanzaville Church

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Courtesy Of: Danielle Martinez Photography Courtesy Of: Danielle Martinez Photography
A historic Bonanzaville building holds memories for many in the valley. In fact, former Governor Ed Schafer and his wife were married in the St. John's Church. We talked with one couple who will be the last to start a new chapter of their lives there.

Joe Brown and his new wife Emma decided to tie the knot on June 21st at Bonanzaville's historic church. But they're the last couple that will ever walk down the aisle.

"It's a little weird right now, you don't know how you'll feel about it because it's still so new," says Joe Brown.

Only the outside of the church is still intact, a week ago fire destroyed the core of the building. 

Board members received quotes to restore the church, the first came it at a million dollars and the second came in close to $500,000. The church insurance will only cover about $27,000, which will barley cover tearing down the building. 

If it isn't restored, the group will save the steeple and create a monument for the historic building. The board is now looking into a replacement church but hasn't found one in particular. The one topping the list is South Pleasant Church in Christine, ND. It looks similar and is only about 30 minutes away. 

Bonanzaville officials did save about 95% of the artifacts originally in the church, the facility manager Dale Wentland says many of the precious items in the church will be salvaged.

"We were able to save all the pews and the alter and its been stored. Hopefully we will be able to restore it and used again, so it can be appreciated by another generation," says Wentland.

Those artifacts are currently being stored in the Melroe Tractor Building, but they hope to have them out of that building and a new location before Pioneer Days, August 16th-17th.

Whatever they decide, Emily Walander says they will have to fundraise to help with costs.

For the Brown's, pictures will preserve the memories; but it won't be the same.

"It had the curved pews and a chandelier and a lot of other features you couldn't find anywhere else," says Brown.

Two other couples had weddings in the coming months, one the last weekend of September and one in October. Both were set to be inside the church. Bonanzaville officials talked with Maple Cheyenne Church and will provide that venue as an option for those weddings. The church is about 10 minutes away in rural Harwood, ND.
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