Tours

Overview

Since 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.

Our 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. (See photos.)

Spring Tour 2014

The Spring Tour for 2014 brings the North Carolina Presbyterian Historical Society to the rolling hills of the northern Piedmont and Salem Presbytery. This area is rich in Presbyterian history, and we will visit four of the historic churches of the area, each with a unique story. The Society will also visit a fledgling institution with Presbyterian roots, and an historical site that was a vital part of the education of underserved students in the early twentieth century. Register today!.

For 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, NC.

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Sample Church Histories:

First Presbyterian Church
Salisbury, NC

First 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.

The 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.

Maxwell 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.

Other 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).

First 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.

The 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.

Source: http://www.salisburyfirstpres.org

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Thyatira Presbyterian Church
Mill Bridge Community, Salisbury, NC

Thyatira 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.

Around 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.

After 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 Church.

Over 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).

The 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.

The 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.

(Source: History: Thyatira Presbyterian Church at Mill Bridge (pamphlet), revised June 2003, printed by the church.)

 

 
Background image: Brown Marsh Presbyterian Church, Bladen County, NC

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