Saturday, January 30, 2021

The church that swallowed its predecessor whole

Someone asked earlier this week about the building dates of Chariton's First Church of the Nazarene, North 12th Street and Braden, as that congregation (now known as Grace Pointe) prepares to leave its home of more than a century and begin meeting at the Chariton Community Center.

As building histories go, this one is among Chariton's most interesting --- an example of a larger church that swallowed its predecessor whole.

The story begins in 1912 when the the congregation was organized as Lucas County's second representative of the Pentecostal Church of the Nazarene after a series of revival meetings near town. That series had been sponsored by the first --- English Township's Mason congregation, organized a year earlier.

The denomination itself dated from 1907, when western and eastern threads that had emerged from the Wesleyan Holiness movement merged. As I've pointed out before, the Rev. Phineas F. Bresee, who served Chariton Methodists 1866-1868, was a principal organizer --- during 1895 --- of the western group and became co-superintendent of the merged denomination. "Pentecostal" was dropped from the  title in 1919 after it became closely identified with glossolalia, or the practice of speaking in tongues, something that was not a part of the Nazarene movement.

In any case, the congregation was organized with nine charter members during March of 1912 and the building site at the intersection of North 12th and Braden purchased later in the year.

The congregation constructed its new home during 1913, selecting a simple but graceful frame design with a nicely done portico (this image and another here were lifted from the congregation's 50th anniversary booklet and the quality is not very good).

According to newspaper reports, Andrew J. Stephens, who had built the Lucas County Historical Society's Stephens House for his family in 1911, was by this time a member of the congregation, served on its building committee and supervised construction. He encouraged the congregation to clad the building in the same rusticated concrete block used two years before in his own home, but that probably was beyond the group's financial means.

During the late 1930s, as the congregation grew, a flat-roofed addition was made to the south side of the building to provide Sunday school rooms.

And then, in 1950, the decision was made renovate the building entirely --- a year-long project that involved a great deal of volunteer labor on the part of members. The building was expanded to the west, a bell tower added to the east front, the roof raised and reordered to cover all of the 1913 building and its newer wing plus the addition then in progress, and the entire structure was clad in brick.

The result was a harmonious structure that offered few hints of how it evolved, although this (really poor) image shows the white walls of the original building before brick cladding had been added to its exterior walls.

The expanded and reordered building was dedicated during September of 1951 and served the congregation until 1972 when the educational wing was added to the west, giving the church building its current size and shape. This addition was dedicated during July of 1972.

Finally, here's a photo from the Lucas County Historical Society collection of delegates to the third annual district assembly of the Iowa Pentecostal Church of the Nazarene, held in Chariton during 1915 in the new building (in the background) and a large tent erected near the church on lots that at the time still were vacant. There are no further identifications associated with the photo.

1 comment:

Tom Atha said...

My grandparents were members of this church.