Iglesia ni Cristo (Church of Christ), a church group originally based in the Philippines, recently bought the historic ghost town, Johnsonville Village, in Connecticut.
Priced at $1.8 million, the 62-acre property was purchased by the group, which is often referred to as INC, in July 2017. On July 26, the church group opened up the village to the public for a neighborhood appreciation day.
At least 1,500 church members attended the gathering, traveling from Connecticut and other nearby states, according to AsAmNews.
“Brother Eduardo V. Manalo, INC Executive Minister, envisions Johnsonville as a future site of INC activities in the Northeastern Seaboard of the United States,” INC spokesman Edwil Zabala said. “The INC, which currently has three congregations in Connecticut, is found in 138 countries and territories around the world.”
State Rep. Melissa Ziobron of the 34th District in East Haddam was also present at the celebration.
“In America they love to see history preserved and I think that’s really the underlying thing,” she said. “I think there are certain buildings that are probably more sentimental than others, and that’s how I hope the community will have conversations and be involved and welcomed.”
INC Brother Joji Crisostomo promised the group will preserve the original architecture of Johnsonville.
“Restoration will be a priority,” he said. “Ultimately, the plan is to use the property for church activities and also open it to others. While exact plans for development have not yet been finalized, the INC is hopeful neighbors will appreciate the breath of new life being brought into the town. INC respects the rich history that the property will always carry.”
Johnsonville Village is the second town that the church group has bought in the U.S. The first one was the ghost town Scenic, South Dakota in 2011. INC purchased the town for nearly $800,000, according to Forbes.