Page Tredway provided two written documents describing his memories of the 1857 Greek Revival building which was the early home of the Chatham Baptist Church congregation. Below are his remarks on presenting the McLaughlin illustration on December 23, 1966; and selected paragraphs from his booklet entitled Chatham Baptist Church: A Child's Recollections; and What Our Churches Have Contributed in Material Ways to Our Town, which was published in early 1967.
“The picture of the old Baptist Church is presented today in gratitude for what this church has meant to me and to members of my family and to many of my childhood friends. Also because since I returned to Chatham in 1961, your pastor, his wife, and their children and many of you, have guided my sunset. I entered the Sunday School in 1884 and attended it until I left Chatham in 1898. I, unfortunately for me, did not become a church member until I was 28.
‘Come to the church in the wildwood,
O come to the church in the vale,
No spot is so dear to my childhood
As the little brown church in the vale.’
“Only my church was not brown. It was designed from a Greek Temple — with dark red brick and large white pillars. Several friends asked if I had a picture of the church. Failing to find such a picture, I conferred with old timers and drew a picture which I took to an architect, requesting him to draw it to scale. The picture presented today was printed by photo-offset from the sketch which Mr. McLaughlin supplied.
“The church stood on the exact spot of the home of Mr. Sours, corner of Main Street and Military Drive. The nearest house south of it was the home of Dr. Richard White (today the home of Mrs. P. J. Hundley). Fields spread from that home to the church. On Main Street opposite the White home was the residence of Judge Gilmer. From the Gilmer home running north and extending for a great distance along Hurt Street were fields, with a number of trees. Back of the church were several acres of woods. The only home north of the church was the home of Judge Horatio Davis. After the Judge moved to Florida his home was purchased by Mr. Thomas Shields, the father of four daughters and five sons. With four attractive daughters, the hill did not prevent the home from becoming a social center. Beyond that home were farms for many miles. The church was indeed in the ‘wildwood.’
“I wrote a story ‘A Child's Recollections,’ centering around the Baptist Church. Subsequently I added ‘What Our Churches Have Contributed to the Material Welfare of Chatham.’ My plan was to send the booklet containing the stories to friends and relatives as my Christmas message; however, the job cannot be completed for several weeks. Additional copies may be had for $1.50 each as long as the limited supply lasts.”
“Several friends inquired as to whether or not I had a picture of the old Baptist Church. Failing to find one, in my clumsy fashion, I drew a sketch from memory, which I turned over to Mr. John F. McLaughlin, requesting him to draw a sketch to scale. After conferring with our beloved local historian, Mrs. Maud Carter Clement, and with me, he has supplied a sketch in color. The payment he received is small return for the time and talent devoted to the project. He has my gratitude, as well as that of others interested. The picture of the church was presented at the Christmas service Dec. 23, 1966.”…
“The pulpit was at the front of the church (the west end). On the front corners of the rostrum, were stands for the beautiful bronze lamps. Mrs. David Jefferson has one of the lamps in her attractive home. The baptistry was under the rostrum. In my time, perhaps because of uncertain water supply, immersions were made in an ice pond….
“The galleries ran the length of the church on each side, connecting with the gallery in the rear, which was used for the choir. From the porch, two doors led to the auditorium and two to the galleries.”
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Copyright © 2001–2006 Patricia B. Mitchell.