Little Piece of History – Brook Rieman Photography, Bloomington Indiana

Historic Mt. Ebal ChurchAfter a detailing the restoration of our historic church studio, and a tour of the inside, I thought it might be nice to share some of the history of Mount Ebal Church and and it’s special place in Monroe County.

This year, this tiny, one-room church will celebrate it’s 142nd birthday. To put it’s age in perspective, the civil war ended just 6 years before the church was built. In fact, this hilly section of Monroe County was only settled 50 years prior. Before that, this land had been Miami Indian territory.

Back when the church was constructed, Mount Ebal had a much different view than it does today. At that time, the church overlooked a valley of farmland. In 1960, 88 years after the church was built, farmland was purchased for the reservoir and “Lake Monroe”, the largest lake in Indiana was constructed. The fields that Mount Ebal Church used to overlook are now beneath the waters of Monroe Reservoir.

In 1869, several local families began meeting for church services in a little schoolhouse which was located near where the church now stands. In 1872, twenty-two families donated $25 apiece toward construction of what would become Mount Ebal Methodist church. A carpenter named Dan Chambers spearheaded the construction, with many men from the congregation providing the labor.  Several families donated the lumber, while another man, “Uncle Bud” Deckard, hauled it to the site using his team of oxen. The lumber was sawed at a water-powered mill which was located at Fairfax on Salt Creek at the time. The abundant limestone of the area was burnt in a lime kiln placed on a farm located around 200 yards south of where the church stands. The resulting lime was mixed with horse hair and used to plaster the walls. The church was constructed with 2 separate doors and a 2″ x 6″ board down the middle of the pews. In accordance with the beliefs of the early congregation, one side of the church was for men, and the other side was for women. Revivals were often held in the church, some being so popular that the tiny church could not accommodate the crowds. Many stood in the rain under the eves to hear a particularly enthusiastic Reverend. It was said that singing in the church could be heard from a mile away. A hitch-rack was located just outside the church for members to tie up their horses during services. The church was the hub of community activities with popular “Basket Dinners” being held with horse-drawn buggies and later, Model A Fords parked under the huge oak that still stands today.

Historic Mt. Ebal Church

Over the years, the congregation dwindled with the last regular services being held in the early 1970s. After families moved away with the construction of Monroe Reservoir, there were just not enough people to keep the church going. For close to a decade, the church sat empty and fell into complete disrepair and was basically uninhabitable. In an effort to save the building, in 1978, Bloomington Restorations, Inc purchased the church and with the help of a grant from Indiana Land Trusts and lots of community effort, the building was restored to it’s original condition. In 1995, the church was purchased by William Ellis, a private individual who rented out the building for occasional weddings and memorial services over the years.

In 2012, we purchased the building. You can read more about how this happened in this post. We feel very honored to be the current caretakers of this historic landmark and it is a duty that we do not take lightly. We feel that the best way to honor and maintain this historic landmark is to put it back into regular use so that it may remain for future generations to admire and enjoy.


Like This|Tweet This!|Pin This!|Link This!
John WoodcockMay 24, 2014 - 8:33 pm

I loved reading the history of your beautiful building. I think you are the best kind of caretaker. I hope your business is going well.

15 Secrets to Rock Your Senior Pictures!

Congratulations, you’ve scheduled your Senior Pictures!  Now I am going to let you in on a few secrets to help you get ready for your Senior shoot and, most importantly, get the best possible pictures. Using this checklist will help you prepare and stay organized to make sure you ROCK your upcoming Senior Pictures!

15 Secrets to ROCK your Senior Pictures by Brook Rieman Photography, Bloomington, Indiana


In the weeks and days leading up to your shoot:

  • Make sure your outfits are clean and absolutely wrinkle-free. You would not believe how many wrinkly clothes I have seen come through my studio. You want to look your absolute best, not like you yanked something off your bedroom floor. While you are at it, be sure to bring everything on hangers, not shoved in a duffle bag.


  • Check the fit of your clothing. In general, form-fitting clothing photographs much better than clothes that are loose or baggy. Loose clothes appear to add pounds on camera. If you have a loose fitting shirt, pair it with skinny jeans. If you pick a flowing skirt, pair it with a close-fitted top.
  • Hang an entire outfit on the same hanger. This will help keep things organized. You can even put jewelry to go with a specific outfit into a sandwich back and hang that from the hanger, as well. Easy peasy.

15 Secrets to Amazing Senior Pictures

  • Clean your shoes! Make sure your shoes are free of dirt and dust. Wipe them down and scrub the tread if they are particularly dirty.


  • Check your hair.  If you have highlights, consider having them touched up prior to your session. If you are trying a new cut or color, be sure to have this done at least a week ahead of time. This way you have time to fix it in the event that something goes wrong.


  • Have  a specific hair or makeup style in mind? Save a photo on your phone or bring a clipping from a magazine to show our stylist exactly what you want.


  • Got props? Do you want to incorporate your interests into your session? If so, don’t forget to bring any sports gear, musical instruments, and anything else you might want in a photograph.

15 Secrets to ROCK your Senior Pictures

  • Don’t tan specifically for your shoot.  Tans don’t really read well on camera, plus, tanning causes skin cancer. Period.


  • Drink plenty of water! Keeping hydrated can really improve the look of your skin in pictures. Be sure to drink lots of water in the weeks and days leading up to your shoot.


  • Don’t forget your nails! Make sure your nails are clean, neat and even in length. Try not to go crazy with color. I recommend nude polish or french tips if you decide to get a manicure before your session. Bright nail colors can be distracting really date your pictures in the future.


  • Don’t worry about zits. Blemishes are something everyone deals with at one time or another. Do not pick at them. It is much easier for me to retouch an un-touched zit than it is for me to deal with one that has been messed with. Hands off!


The day of your session:


  • Exfoliate and moisturize. In the shower, be sure to scrub your body extra well. Using a washcloth, rub your lips to gently exfoliate for nice, soft lips. When you get out of the shower, moisturize like crazy and apply plenty of chapstick to lock in moisture. Skip the makeup, My makeup artist needs a clean pallet to work her magic. Arrive with a clean, moisturized face.


  • Dry your hair but don’t style it. My hairstylist wants you to arrive with clean hair that has not been touched with a flat iron or curling iron since it was last washed. Hair has memory and using these things will make it harder for your new style to hold up.


  • Brush those teeth! You wouldn’t go to the dentist without brushing first, would you? Make sure to brush and floss prior to your session. It is a good idea to bring your brush to the shoot just in case you eat anything on the way!


And now, the MOST IMPORTANT tip of all:


  • Don’t stress, have fun! Senior Pictures are your time to shine. Letting your guard down, being yourself and having fun will result in the very best pictures possible. Now get ready to ROCK those shots!


Click HERE for an abbreviated, printable version of this checklist!

Brook Rieman

Like This|Tweet This!|Pin This!|Link This!
F a c e b o o k