DELAWARE, Ohio - The mansion where televangelist and self-proclaimed faith healer Leroy Jenkins spent years performing before thousands of followers was reduced to rubble this week.
DELAWARE, Ohio — The mansion where televangelist and self-proclaimed faith healer Leroy Jenkins spent years performing before thousands of followers was reduced to rubble this week.
The house at 470 S. Sandusky St. fell into disrepair after Jenkins’ ministry, the Leroy Jenkins Evangelical Association, sold it to an Indian charity in 2003.
The well that produced his infamous “miracle healing water” had long-since dried up and, according to a city inspections report, the ceiling over the auditorium where he preached was caving in.
It was an unceremonious ending for the central Ohio chapter of Jenkins’ ministry.
Jenkins sold the property, which included the mansion, another two-story house and about 7 acres of land, to the Yogi Divine Society of New Jersey in 2003. Yogi Divine paid about $1.3 million for the property.
Tushar Shelat, manager of Yogi Divine in central Ohio, said Yogi Divine held spiritual services and led seminars in the mansion from the time it bought it until April, when the city of Delaware condemned it.
Shelat said the mansion was safe. Yogi Divine, he said, tried to fix up the mansion but couldn’t keep up with the repairs.
“It was a very old building and Mr. Jenkins, he did not follow all the city codes,” Shelat said.
City inspectors cited problems with the mansion’s heating system, water pipes and electrical wiring, and said the ceilings were falling in and wild animals were living inside the building. According to a letter from the city to Yogi Divine detailing those issues, the mansion and house had been divided into bedrooms without following a building plan or adhering to city code.
“The structures have basically been converted to a hotel/motel,” the letter reads.
City officials paid about $124,000 for the building to be razed, using grant money from Moving Ohio Forward, a state program that sends money to counties to help them remove blighted buildings.
Delaware city spokesman Lee Yoakum said Yogi Divine still will own the property after demolition is complete.
“But they will have a property that is more marketable if they decide to try and put it up for sale,” Yoakum said.
The two-story house behind the mansion will remain, for now, Yoakum said.
After selling the Delaware compound, Jenkins relocated his headquarters to Scottsdale, Ariz., where he owns an office building and maintains a small church in one office. He still appears on television and travels around the country, though the most recent appearances, listed as “crusades” on his website, were canceled because of health issues.
Jenkins’ miracle water was the subject of a state Department of Agriculture investigation in 2002 and 2003 that found coliform bacteria inside bottles of the water for sale at the Delaware complex. He served six years after a 1979 conviction for conspiracy to commit arson and assault, but was later pardoned. His 2001 marriage to a wealthy widow 12 years his senior was annulled after a judge ruled that the woman wasn’t capable of agreeing to the union.
Jenkins, now 77, had trouble talking when reached by phone this week, but said his water was safe and that the charges brought against him were drummed up because of his political ambitions. His secretary emailed copies of reports showing that the water was not contaminated.
Jenkins said he thought the mansion should be destroyed if it was in disrepair.
His secretary, Mary Allen, said that he loved the property in Delaware.
“I think he felt if it wasn’t being kept up, it should be taken down,” she said. “He loved that church.”