1964, we have had a tour of historic churches and sites almost
every year. During this time we have visited areas of North
Carolina from the mountains to the coast and have extended beyond
our geographic boundaries into South Carolina and Virginia.
Please view our list of the dates and
churches visited, 1967-2014.
spring tour of historic churches is usually held the weekend
after Easter. In 2010 it included churches Montreat, Black Mountain,
and Swannanoa, and tours of Warren Wilson College
and the Presbyterian Heritage Center.
each tour we produce a Tour Book that contains histories of
the churches we visit during that tour. Copies of these brief
histories will be available at the Scottish Heritage Center,
DeTamble Library, St. Andrews Presbyterian College in Laurinburg,
Presbyterian Church was organized August 1, 1821 and immediately
became a member of Concord Presbytery. The thirteen original
members were Albert Torrence, Sr., Elizabeth Torrence, Hugh
Horah, Mary Horah, Thomas L. Cowan, Elizabeth Cowan, Dr. Alexander
Long, Mary Long, John Fulton, Charity Gay, Mary T. Holland,
Ann Murphy, and Margaret C. Beckwith. The Reverend Jonathan
Otis Freeman served as their first minister until 1826 when
the first church was built on the corner of West Innes and Jackson
Streets. He had come to Salisbury as a teacher of the classics
at the Salisbury Female Academy. The academy building, now known
as the Wrenn Building, was built in 1832.
lot on which the first church was built had been given to this
congregation by Rebecca (Nesbit) Troy Caldwell, half-sister
of Maxwell Chambers who, at his death, willed to First Presbyterian
Church all the property on the square where the church stood
(except the Wrenn Building) and the entire block on which the
present manse, educational building and church stand. The church
purchased the Wrenn Building from Nathaniel Boyden in 1870,
completing title to both square blocks.
Chambers bought the house built in 1811 by Judge James Martin
on the corner of Jackson and Innes Streets, once known as the
Maxwell Chambers House and now as the Rowan Museum, in 1847
for use as the manse; it was moved back and turned to face Jackson
Street when the present manse was built in 1913. The brick Greek
Revival Session House, built in 1855 over the graves of the
Chambers and Nesbit families, served for many years as a Sunday
School for the children. The second church, built on the site
of the first church, was completed in the fall of 1892; its
tower, known as the Bell Tower, was preserved when the church
was torn down in 1971. Architect for the building was Charles
W. Bolton of Philadelphia who incorporated some of the materials
from the original church; the church was cited as a outstanding
example of Romanesque Revival style. The Educational Building
was completed in May, 1952. The first service was held in the
present church on Easter Sunday, April 6, 1969. It was designed
by John Erwin Ramsay.
ministers serving First Presbyterian were The Revs. Jesse Rankin
(1827-1831), Thomas Espy (1831-1833), P.J. Sparrow (1834-1836),
Stephen Frontis (1836-1845), Archibald Baker (1846-1859), Dr.
Jethro Rumple (1860-1906), John H. Grey (1906-1907), Dr. Byron
C. Clark (1907-1925), Edgar A. Woods (1925-1929), Dr. Marshall
Woodson (1930-1937), Dr. Charles J. Woodbridge (1937-1945),
Dr. Sidney Austin Gates (1946-1960), Herbert L. Underwood (1962-1970),
Dr. William W. Williamson (1971-1978), Dr. Robert M. Lewis (1979-2002),
Dr. James C.
Dunkin (2004 to present).
Presbyterian Church Salisbury, North Carolina and Its People
1821-1995, is the title of a privately published book by
Jo White Linn, long-time Church Historian. This research, its
writing and its publication was done over a five year period
and is a gift of this author to the church. It is an excellent
history and was made available on the 175th anniversary of the
church. There are still copies of this publication available.
church membership has doubled since 1980. The Strategic Planning
Committee has conducted a two and one half year study and they,
as well as the Session have given unanimous support and commitment
to a new building project. This will create additional facilities
that will meet the needs of our growing Congregation. We have
been blessed with the Seeds of Promise of many special and dedicated
people. Over one half of the cost of this growth was committed
prior to the formal announcement. This is just one more Leap
of Faith for First Presbyterian Church Salisbury.
Mill Bridge Community, Salisbury, NC
is believed to be the oldest Presbyterian Church west of the
Yadkin River. Since an Anson Co. land entry of 1750 refers to
a “meeting house and burial ground” on the site,
the congregation is thought to have been in existence by about
1747. In 1753 a deed was made to the “Lower Meeting House”,
and in 1755 it was called Cathey’s Meeting House, after
a prominent family in the area. (Before the American Revolution,
the word “church” was reserved only for buildings
of the established Church of England; dissenter congregations
had meeting houses.)
It is known that the Rev. John Thompson preached in this area
as early as 1751, and itinerant preachers doubtless came to
Thyatira in its early years. The church’s first pastor,
however, was Dr. Samuel Eusebius McCorkle, a son of the congregation,
installed in August, 1777. Dr. McCorkle was well known for his
Zion-Parnassus Academy, a classical school located less than
a mile from the church. A supporter of higher education, he
led the Prayer of Dedication when the university was opened
in Chapel Hill. He served Thyatira until 1811.
the turn of the 19th century the Great Revival divided many
congregations, including the members of Thyatira. One of the
leaders of the movement, Rev. James McGready, grew up in Old
Buffalo Church in Greensboro.
ordination he visited Hampton-Sydney College, where a revival
had been going on among the students for some years. Returning
to North Carolina, he preached with great fervor, sparking revivals
in Guilford, Alamance, and surrounding counties. In 1796 he
went to Kentucky, where thousands camped for days in tents,
wagons, and shacks. Many were “struck down” in deep
conviction, some in a swoon, others shouting, dancing, even
barking, or taken with bodily “jerks”. In a short
time the revival had spread throughout the back country. Thyatira
was divided on whether or not these physical exercises were
a true manifestation of the Holy Spirit. In 1805 the revivalists—about
30 families and five elders—left to form Back Creek Presbyterian
the years the two congregations began again to work together,
and in 1877 the Rev. J. Alston Ramsey was called as the pastor
of both Thyatira and Back Creek. By 1946 each was strong enough
to have its own pastor. The most recent ones at Thyatira have
been Rev. George S. Calhoun (1966-1983), Rev. Malcolm McL. Bullock
(1983-1990), Dr. Stephen A. Moss (1992-2000), and Rev. Sandra
McNeill Kern (since August 2001).
first log building was west of the old part of the cemetery.
Little is known about the second building. The third was described
as a very large frame church, with galleries on three sides
and a high pulpit with an ornamented sounding board suspended
above. The present building was built in 1860. The Christian
Education Building was built in 1948, the Fellowship Building
in 1960, and the Mission Resource Center and the Parlor were
added after 1995. In 1980 the Thyatira Heritage Museum was built,
and it was extended in 1988.
oldest known grave in the cemetery is that of John Nesbit, who
died in 1755. Among the early settlers buried here are the ancestors
of U.S. President James Knox Polk. Also notable are the graves
of Capt. William Armstrong and Capt. Thomas Cowan, who fought
in the Revolution, and the Hon. Matthew Locke, who was a member
of the Provincial Congress and the U.S. Congress.
Recent missions of the church include scholarships for young
people, a tutoring program at the Mt. Ulla Elementary School,
building Habitat homes, and rebuilding in eastern NC after Hurricane
Floyd. With other congregations in the area, Thyatira has helped
construct hospital facilities in Zambia, Brazil, and Kenya.
History: Thyatira Presbyterian Church at Mill Bridge (pamphlet),
revised June 2003, printed by the church.)