Doing some research on the windows of Statesville’s Broad Street Methodist Church led me to discover something about the old courthouse just below the Square on South Center Street.
Front page news in The Landmark of Tuesday, July 6, 1909, told readers that work on the then-new Broad Street Methodist Church had progressed to the point that their congregation would hold worship services in its new building on the next Sunday, July 11. Services would not be held in the new sanctuary, however, but rather in the Sunday school room, which was completed, and had an estimated seating capacity of 400 to 500.
According to The Landmark, “… all services of the church will be held in this room until the interior of the main auditorium is completed.” The main auditorium is what most of us would call the sanctuary. The exterior of the church had been completed and the structure was praised in the newspaper as being “not only the most modern and the handsomest church building in Statesville, but it is the most costly. …”
Broad Street’s congregation had been worshipping in the old county courthouse for about two years, ever since it had vacated its former location at the corner of Walnut and Mulberry in the summer of 1907.
The Methodists were not the only congregation in town to have used the old courthouse for divine services. Prior to use by the Methodists, the congregation of the First Baptist Church had made use of the county’s main judicial building. In fact, the Methodists had moved in and made use of the facilities on Sundays “immediately after it was vacated by the Baptists,” who had been worshipping there for the 18 previous months while their new church was being erected. As The Landmark summed it up, “The courthouse has been used as a regular place of worship for about three-and-a-half years.”
The first service in Broad Street’s new sanctuary did not come as soon as expected, but was worth the wait. The December 31, 1909, Landmark told the story:
“Work on the new Broad Street Methodist Church was completed last week and the first service in the main auditorium [sanctuary] was held Sunday morning, conducted by the pastor, Rev. Harold Turner. The Methodists and the people of the town generally were anxious to get into the new auditorium and consequently every seat was taken Sunday morning, and a large crowd was present at the evening services.”
It was noted that the sanctuary was able to seat 600 persons comfortably.
The Landmark pointed out some of the details of the new church, remarking that the bell tower over the main entrance was nearly 100 feet in height and the towers over the other two entrances were about 60-feet high. It was also noted that the facility had electric lighting, hot-air heating, with all inside woodwork, including the pulpit and altar rail, which were made of golden oak.
Perhaps the crowning glory of the sanctuary was the magnificent light coming through the stain glass windows.
“There are two unusually large stained glass windows of beautiful design,” reported the newspaper. “The window on the east side represents the tomb at the time of the Resurrection of Christ, while the larger one in the front represents Christ walking with the two men on the way to Emmaus. A smaller window in the front is a reproduction of ‘The Good Shepherd’ and a smaller one on the east is the memorial window to Mrs. Sallie Denny Armfield, which was transferred from the old church and is the only window from the old church. It has recently been worked over and is very attractive.”
This last window on the east side of the sanctuary featuring the image of an angel is especially translucent and delicate, and is said to have been made by the Louis Comfort Tiffany Studios, and is believed to be the only such window in Statesville.
The movement to build a new Methodist house of worship was stated to have been begun under the ministry of Rev. H.K. Boyer around 1903. Rev. Boyer was pastor for four years. Rev. Frank Siler succeeded Rev. Boyer and pushed the work forward. After two years, Rev. Siler was succeeded by Rev. Dr. J.R. Scroggs, who was pastor of Broad Street for only a year. Rev. Turner, who was just beginning his second year of leading the flock at Broad Street, had “the honor of seeing the work completed.”
It is understood that the best time to view the windows is from the interior of the sanctuary at about 11 o’clock on Sunday mornings.
O.C. Stonestreet is the author of “Tales from Old Iredell County,” “They Called Iredell County Home” and “Once Upon a Time .... in Mooresville, NC.”