Saturday, October 16, 2010

First Presbyterian Church Bell Tower Park. Salisbury, NC

Original Exterior Drawing, 1892

Salisbury is about fifty miles south of Greensboro and has the most well preserved turn-of-the-century downtown and surrounding neighborhoods. One of the most distinctive attractions is the First Presbyterian Church Bell Tower, which stands in a small park just off the main street.

The church to which the tower was once part of was built in 1892 to replace an earlier building. It was designed by Charles Webber Bolton of Philadelphia who planned more than 500 churches during his career. This church was the only one he designed in North Carolina.

I found the original drawing that Bolton did of the church at North Carolina State University’s architectural history website. I couldn’t find any old photographs of how the church once looked intact, which is a shame, as it must have been magnificent.

In 1971, the congregation razed the church, but left the bell tower intact in a small park that also includes the 1850 Presbyterian Session House. The remainder of the tract was sold off and developed as a branch bank building.


frayedattheedge said...

What an amazing building - and interesting to see the original plans.

Karen said...

Anne: And I wish I could find out why the congregation decided to tear down the church and just leave the bell tower. As far as I could see there isn't a carillon in the tower, so what was the point? And the church, at least from the drawing, looked magnificent. Wonder why they wanted something more "modern"?

Anonymous said...

My understanding is the old sanctuary was too small and being circular (the left side of the building in the plan was the sanctuary), would have been difficult expand. The condition of the building was also an issue. The bell tower was left standing as a compromise with the Historic Preservation Society. There is a bell in the tower and on New Year's Eve, many residents gather to ring in the new year. If you have any more questions I'll do my best to answer them.

Karen said...

Anonymous: Thanks for the update, but how do I reach you for other questions about Salisbury? I plan on going back to take more pictures, especially of the train depot.

Anonymous said...

Hi Karen. I sent you an email a little while back and was wondering if you had received it.