Down Memory Lane celebrates history of Hartselle church of Christ
Special to the Enquirer
The Hartselle church of Christ began meeting in 1920 after a month-long tent meeting on a vacant lot across from the L & N Railroad Depot. That long history will be honored this year as part of the city’s biggest annual festival.
For the 2021 Hartselle Depot Days Down Memory Lane, several items of historical significance to the Hartselle church of Christ will be on display Sept. 13. Beginning at 6 p.m., the building will be open for members of the community to come in and view the displays and the 100-year timeline of the history of the congregation.
At 6:30 p.m. there will be a short video presentation in the auditorium.
Until a building was erected, the congregation first met in the Morrison House on Hammitt Street.
From 1920-1947 the church building was at the intersection of Hammitt and Rock streets. This building had a coal-burning stove, and A. T. Woodall, a church deacon for many years, would walk from his home on West Main Street to start the woodfire for worship services in the winter months.
In the summer months, members had to bring their own hand fans.
In 1944 a decision was made to relocate the church building to a lot on the new U.S. highway. A building fund was established, and in 1947, the church began meeting at its present location on High School Street, later renamed Sparkman Street in honor of U.S. Sen. John Sparkman.
Through the years, from 1947 to present day, several additions and renovations have been made to this building.
The visible footprint of the original building can still be seen today. The two major renovations were the additions of expanded auditoriums in 1972 and 2007.
The church is often referred to as “A Light On a Hill,” which is also the title of a book about the church’s history from 1920-1983, written by Hartselle native Lista Martin.
No one can remember the name of the man who was traveling through Hartselle one day in the late 1940s who stopped by the Hartselle church of Christ needing money and looking for work. The stranger ended up painting a beautiful mural over the baptistry.
After he finished his work, he moved on and was never heard from again.
Over the years, as additions to the building were added, the mural was obscured by a storage room that held items for the needy. It was rediscovered during construction around 1992.
Local artist Peggy Russell helped restore the mural. Today this stunning painting has a prominent place over the entrance to the children’s educational wing.
An old cane chair belonging to Civil War veteran Capt. M. K. Mahan, “one of the most beloved men in Morgan County,” is one of the older items in the church. It has been said Mahan was hard of hearing in his later years, so he would pull the cane chair next to the pulpit so he could hear everything better.
Rosemary and Rebecca Kirk recall fond memories of riding country roads with their mother Hazel and Aunt Nyna Freeman searching for wildflowers and greenery for the Sunday morning flower arrangements. They still have some of the vases used for this purpose.
Everyone is invited to join in Sept. 13 as the church celebrates being a part of Hartselle’s history for more than 100 years.
Refreshments will be provided at the conclusion of Down Memory Lane in the church’s fellowship hall.