Church replica under construction at museum

Published 11:51 am Saturday, July 3, 2010

COURTLAND—A replica of a country church from the 1800s is taking shape on the grounds of the Southampton Agriculture and Forestry Museum in Courtland.

When completed, the Heritage Village on the museum grounds will have a representation of most buildings that existed in the county during a simpler time — all except for a barber shop.

“We tried to find an old church that we could move to the museum, but there is just not one out there that is small enough and in good condition,” Lynda Updike, president of the Southampton County Historical Society, said Tuesday. “So we decided to build one and paint it to make it look old.”

Updike said the construction of the church will cost about $50,000 and is being funded through donations to the historical society, which is a non-profit organization. She added that the project was also running under budget.

“Numerous people have donated their services and materials,” Updike said.

Jim Owens of Emporia, a member of the historical society, was working on flashing and floor joists for the building on Tuesday, with help from his daughter, Chris Owens, and Steven Little.

Updike and Jim Owens said they hoped to have the building completed in time for this year’s Heritage Day celebration, which is Sept. 11. The church would also be dedicated at that time.

“Hopefully it will be a focal point for the museum,” Updike said. “It will have a little steeple on it with a bell that will be visible. You will be able to see the steeple from Main Street, so hopefully it will also attract more visitors.”

Updike added that people are welcome to make a financial contribution to the project to purchase doors, windows and light fixtures for the church, which could then be dedicated in memory or honor of a loved one.

“So far we have already sold the two front doors, the two octagonal windows at the front of the church and a couple of the side windows,” she said.

Volunteers from the museum and the historical society traveled to Como, N.C., in December 2008 to accept the contents of a small rural church, a donation from Marvin Worrell.

Worrell purchased the furniture from New Hope Methodist Church in Como when it closed several years ago. The donation included several Victorian pieces, altar chairs and pews, two small pianos, numerous pictures, figurines and sheet music.