Wednesday, May 18, 2005

A great day for Presbyterians

This is how Chariton's First Presbyterian Church looks now. A dome once crowned the roof, covering (and illuminating) the inner dome of stained glass that still is visible in the sanctuary.

Nancee (McMurtrey) Seifert, a Lucas Countyan in exile, does a great job of keeping subscribers to the RootsWeb Lucas County mailing list informed and entertained by transcribing and posting on a daily basis articles from old Chariton newspapers.

This postcard view shows how First Presbyterian looked in 1909, when it was dedicated.

A Wednesday post dealt with completion and dedication during 1909 of Chariton's First Presbyterian Church, a grand old structure that continues to serve its congregation. Just for the heck of it, I'm going to swipe her work, post in here and put up some current (taken Sunday) and a vintage photgraph of the church.

The major change over the years, which you might not notice if you weren't aware it once was there, is loss of the dome that once crowned the building and in part lighted the interior of the main auditorium. The gorgeous stained glass domed ceiling remains intact and visible from the interior, but a shed-like structure now covers it on the roof.

The name of the church is evident in stained glass over the front door.

I'm not a big fan of the ramp added a couple of years ago at the entrance to ease access for the handicapped. But I know the Presbyterians thought long and hard before adding it.

Here are the articles as transcribed by Nancee:

The Chariton Leader, Thursday, 25 February1909

After a year and a half's waiting, the long looked for day is near at hand. On next Sunday the new house of worship is to be thrown open for service and dedicated to the sacred cause. For many months has the work been in hand --- Precept upon precept, here a little and there a little, until the perfect building stands forth. That is, as near perfect as it is possible for human architects to build. It is a shadow of the great and flawless structure not built by hands, with foundations as broad as the universe and as enduring as the eternal years.

The cornerstone inscription gives the date of the congregation's origin, 1856, which makes it one of Chariton's earliest.

The Leader is not going into long details but suffice it to say almost two years ago it was decided by the Presbyterian class here that the good of the church demanded a more commodious house of worship, one which would fill the modern demand. Later the old edifice was torn down and more than a year ago the foundation walls were laid.Then came discouragements and doubt; later the horizon clearified and the work was renewed until on next Sunday the builders, Messrs. Johnson & Best, will turn it over as completed. The days of rejoicing have come.

The ground plan of the building is 48x90 feet, stone foundation and the superstructure is of brick with pressed cement block veneering, one of the most handsome and enduring building materials in existence. The architectural style is on the dome plan, and shaded lights and makes an imposing appearance. The front is full height, dropping down at the back, thus breaking the monotony of contour. The construction cost in round numbers was $20,000.00.

The stained glass, including this --- the major window on the west front --- is not especially elaborate, but works well for a sanctuary lighted on three sides that with its domed glass roof resembles a jewel box.
The interior decorations are superb and the arrangement pleasing to the vision. The pulpit and choir loft are placed at the northeast corner of the auditorium within easy range of the entire floor space. The main auditorium is 48x48 feet, pew seated, with hardwood floor and covered with cork carpet. The Sunday school room covers a space 32x44 feet, seated with chairs, ceilings lofty and the ventilation good. Off the Sunday school room opens two classrooms and a ladies parlor.

The basement ceilings are 9 feet high, well lighted and airy. The entertainment room is directly under the auditorium, covering same space and kitchen is beneath the Sunday school room. This department is furnished with closets, cupboards, drawers, sink, drain boards for dish washing, pie and cake shelves and ample table room, cold and hot water. Next to this on the east is the furnace and coal room. One of the equipments of the kitchen is a Buck range presented by Blanchard & Beem and the Buck Stove and Range Co., of St. Louis. The building throughout is heated by double pipe system. The dining room is supplied with large tables 3x14 feet, 28 inches high and between the kitchen and dining room are two large serving windows. The floors are cement and perfectly dry. Thus, it is a well appointed structure from earth-line to altitude and from center to circumference, in which all take a pardonable pride and certainly commend the church people in their enterprise. To be admired it needs only to be seen and when once seen,entered, to be fully appreciated.

Sunday, Feb. 28 '09, 10:45 a.m.

Next Sabbath will be a great day for Presbyterians in Chariton for then they will open their new church. Over a year ago work was begun on the new building but was interrupted by the failure of the bank. If "hope deferred makes lean" surely hope realized makes fat. It is true the Presbyterians will be glad to get back home. To the opening of their new building they invite the citizens of Chariton, who have kindly helped in the erection. To all we acknowledge our gratitude and bid you a hearty welcome. The church will be formally opened by Prof. Willis G. Craig, D.D., L.L.D., of McCormick Theological Seminary. Dr. Craig is a southerner with the southern gift of eloquence and a man well qualified for the work.

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