Rex’s Erection

Humbard’s Folly (Rex’s Erection) in 2019

Rex’s Erection

Standing at about 500 feet, a tall structure looms over the surrounding area of Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio. What was originally intended to be a 750-foot tower was never completed, and had sat unfinished since construction was halted in 1971, only 22 days into the project. The structure officially stands 494 feet tall, and was last purchased for $30,000 to be used as a cell phone tower. Over the years, it had gained many names from locals, with two of the most notably used being “Humbard’s Folly,” and of course “Rex’s Erection.”

Early history

The tower was constructed in 1971, paid for by Reverend Rex Humbard of Cuyahoga Falls. Humbard was a well-known televangelist. Initially, the plans laid out by Rex himself included a revolving restaurant at the top of the structure, similar to the CN Tower in Canada. The plans also included a transmission tower so that he could later broadcast his planned local TV station on channel 55, WCOT. Rex had built quite a following over the years, and eventually built the Cathedral of Tomorrow in Cuyahoga Falls, where he would then film his show. The cathedral was built for $4 million in 1958, and was large enough to accommodate television equipment, crew and chorus, along with seating for 5,400 people.

Rex Humbard’s life

Alpha Rex Emmanuel Humbard was born on August 13, 1919 in Little Rock, Arkansas to Alpha and Martha Humbard. As a child, he would begin attending church revivals all across the country. In his later years, he would become the first evangelist to have a weekly nationwide television program in the United States. His program ran from 1952 to 1983, but Rex had other television broadcasts before this program as early as 1949.

The Humbard family legacy stretches back a bit before Rex. Back in 1906, his father had begun a ministry in a rural region of Arkansas. He had traveled from town to town on horseback and mule to preach all across the state. By 1933, his son Rex – now 13 – had also dedicated his life to the lord, starting a daily radio ministry on KTHS radio in Hot Springs, Arkansas.

By 1952, Rex had relocated to Akron, Ohio and had begun pushing for worldwide outreach via television and radio. He had gained thousands of Christian followers across North America and would later expand around the globe. Programs of the Rex Humbard Foundation were eventually seen on more than 600 stations in the United States and Canada, and more than 1400 additional stations around the world. Services were broadcast in 77 different languages.

Even Elvis was a fan

Rex’s programs featured gospel music, including the very popular Cathedral Quartet. His ministry had at its peak been extended to Canada, Europe, the Middle East, Far East, Australia, Latin America and Africa, and had a worldwide reach of over 20 million weekly viewers by the late 1970s. Humbard had also officiated at Elvis Presley’s funeral. Presley himself had been a huge admirer of Rex Humbard’s ministry.

It was around the 1960s when Humbard’s ministry began purchasing businesses through a for-profit arm to raise money. Some businesses included a girdle factory in Brooklyn, an office tower in Akron, a college on Mackinac Island, an advertising agency, an apartment building and many more.

Financial problems

The ministry eventually ran into financial problems during the early 1970s due to bonds and promissory notes that the ministry had sold in the 1950s and 1960s. The securities were not registered and came under the scrutiny of the Securities and Exchange Commission. Humbard was forced to sell off nearly all of the ministry’s assets and cut off overseas operations. This investigation had also forced Humbard to halt the construction of his tower, and halt any further plans to broadcast his television program.

Rex retires

In 1982, Humbard’s son Rex, Jr. succeeded his father in the ministry when Rex retired and moved the family to Lantana, Florida. Though retired, Humbard was still often seen on television broadcasts and making public appearances to preach Christianity. He wrote two autobiographies, including “Miracles in My Life” and “The Soul Winning Century, The Humbard Family Legacy.”

In 1993, Rex was inducted into the Broadcasters Hall of Fame by former Ohio Governor George Voinovich. Shortly after in 1994, the rest of Humbard’s Cathedral of Tomorrow complex was bought by television evangelist Ernest Angley. On December 27, 1999, U.S. News & World Report called Rex one of the “Top 25 Principal Architects of the American Century.” While he was making these life accomplishments, I was completing the Gym Challenge and Neo Genesis Pokémon Trading Card sets. I’d say we were pretty close with our resumes in that respect.

Rex’s death

In 2007, Rex was inducted into the Arkansas Walk of Fame. Unfortunately on September 21, 2007 at 88 years old, Rex Humbard passed away in Atlantis, Florida. His death was due to congestive heart failure. He was survived by his wife, Maude Aimee (who later died in 2012), and four children. He is buried at Rose Hill Burial Park in Fairlawn, Ohio.