Brownstone Wedding Chapel (Now Brownstone Church)
Formerly Central Christian Church
Built in 1894
The site of the Brownstone Wedding Chapel (originally Central Christian Church – Disciples of Christ) was purchased in January 1894, when the church was chartered. Sitting one block south of the courthouse square, this stone sanctuary/auditorium was erected and furnished at a cost of $4,200.
The first church services were held in this building on May 6, 1894, only four months after the church charter. It was dedicated by the Rev. Homer T. Wilson, one of the great orators and preachers of that day.
The original entrance to the building was on West Oak Street under the belfry. The pulpit and choir area were originally on the north end of the room on a two foot raised platform, which stretched completely across the area. The original baptistery pool was beneath this platform and was accessed through doors in the floor.
The original church pews in the sanctuary were of dark wood as was the other wood trim in the room. The original windows were solid color panes which varied in each frame. In the mid 1900's the original windows were replaced with the present stained glass windows. Restoration of the stained glass was done in 2005 by the present owner.
The current owner of the building has restored the original trim and paneling that encircles the interior of the sanctuary. Even the new staircase uses trim boards from the original building. The pews and other furnishings in the renovated chapel area are new but as near in appearance as possible to the original. Also, modern heating and air conditioning has been added for comfort. New recessed lighting has been added to enhance the beauty of the room. All these modern improvements have been carefully hidden so as to preserve the historic essence of the room.
By 1924 the church membership had grown to 250 members. At that time, a $5,000 gift funded a new addition on the north side of the building, with an entrance from Houston Street. This annex was two stories and provided classroom space and a baptistery on the top floor.
The space previously occupied by the baptistery is now occupied by a modern elevator, which accesses the top floor, the ground floor, and the basement level. An interesting note: The 1924 baptistery, once had its opening on the north wall of the auditorium (now taken by the bridal staircase). When the baptistery was not needed, a set of ropes and pulleys lowered a painting of the River of Jordan to cover the baptistery opening. The painting was done by a church member Mrs. Martha Johnson. The River of Jordan painting still hangs in the parlor of the present Central Christian Church at 1602 South Main Street.
On the ground floor of the 1924 addition, there was a small kitchen and fellowship area. The fellowship area had folding doors that could be closed for classroom use, when needed. Children's classes were held in the upstairs classrooms, and adult classes were held in the fellowship hall area. Also, starting in 1924, the ladies of the church prepared and served meals to the local Rotary Club and Lions Club every week.
The current use of this area is two large, handicap-accessible modern restrooms on the ground floor. In the old fellowship hall, you can still see the original folding doors that were used to section off the 1924 fellowship hall. The ceiling of the room has been lowered to allow space for modern electrical wiring for the chapel and has been finished to appear like the original ceiling.
In 1950, through the inspiration of church member Ollie McDavid, a local contractor, a basement was proposed as a last means of expansion on this site. With Mr. McDavid’s leadership, this basement was constructed beneath the entire building, a feat of faith and skill. Men of the church came in the evenings after their workdays to assist in loosening the hard soil under the building. With the use of a mule and a scoop the dirt was removed up a dirt ramp. When finished, the basement area provided a fellowship hall, several classrooms, a larger kitchen, and a storage area. During the time the basement was under construction, the congregation of Central Christian Church did not miss a single worship service, nor did it have to reschedule any church activities.