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The world's smallest cathedral, which was listed in the 1984 Guinness record book and attracts visitors from around the globe, closes its doors on Nov. 1.Photo provided by HEARTLAND REALTY
The world's smallest cathedral, which was listed in the 1984 Guinness record book and attracts visitors from around the globe, closes its doors on Nov. 1.

Photo provided by HEARTLAND REALTY

'World's smallest cathedral' to shut doors

Posted online
Though the tiny stone “cathedral” tucked away in Highlandville holds only 15 people, it’s attracted thousands of visitors from across the world. On Nov. 1, the structure dubbed by Guinness World Records as the world’s smallest cathedral will close its doors. The cathedral was established in 1983.

Purchased by Larry and Darlene Jackson, of Nixa, in 2005, the cathedral was listed in the 1984 Guinness record book for its record-small stature of 14 feet by 17 feet. It has grown into both a roadside landmark and spiritual sanctuary – though not as frequented by locals, Larry Jackson said.

“It’s out-of-town people – all over the country, other nations,” he said. “They come from all over.”

After being diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer, Jackson made the decision to sell the property, which also includes a three-bedroom, two-bath house attached to the church by a breezeway.

The property is listed by Nixa-based Heartland Realty Co. Inc. for $129,900. Jackson said despite the traffic the site has generated, the buyer market for a property with a cathedral is limited. In order to help sell it, the owners are restoring the building to its original state, removing the miniature pews, stained glass windows, blue onion-shaped dome on the roof and all remnants of the church.

“If we can’t sell it that way, we’ll have to take it back to just a really pretty house with a stone building next to it,” Larry Jackson said.

The building, equipped with an altar and a pipe organ within its small confines, was converted into a cathedral by Karl Pruter, a retired priest from Chicago. Charmed by the classic look of the building, Pruter fashioned it after roadside cathedrals he’d encountered in his travels in the Bavarian countryside. Due to his fading health, Pruter sold the property to the Jacksons in 2005 but continued to hold services there until his death in 2007.

“When we bought the property, he was just going to shut it down,” said Jackson, who described
Pruter as a charismatic man with many stories. “We told him he could stay there just as long as he wanted – he wasn’t hurting anything. We never charged him any rent or anything. We just let him stay there and have the church.”

The Jacksons kept the cathedral open after Pruter’s death, even entertaining the idea of opening it up for additional use.

“We thought about maybe even having a wedding chapel, a small wedding chapel or something like that, but my health is to the point where we decided not to do that,” Jackson said.

He said though it’s a disappointment to close the church after so many years, the steady stream of tourists on the property has scared away potential buyers.

Bob Massengale, Darlene Jackson’s brother and designated broker for Heartland Realty Co. in Nixa, said another problem with the cathedral’s selling factor lies in its most noted characteristic: its size.

“The size of the building – even to change it to a different use – it’s probably not large enough to be of any value to anybody,” Massengale said.

Massengale said it’s not uncommon for sellers with this type of distinctive property to have difficulty attracting interest.

“Just because it’s unique doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s any income from it,” Massengale said. “It’s really hard to put a value on something like that. It’s only worth what it’s worth to that individual if there’s no way to turn it into something that’s a profitable endeavor.”[[In-content Ad]]

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