Church seeks support for historic registry initiative
Published 12:03 pm Saturday, April 4, 2015
A historically African American church in Washington seeks support for a campaign to restore its building to its original glory and to be added to the North Carolina Historic Registry.
Beebe Memorial CME Church recently launched its “900 Strong” campaign, asking 900 supporters to donate at least $10 to go toward the restoration of the church building, according to fourth-generation church member and head trustee Alice Sadler. The church has a goal of raising $15,000 annually over a three-year period to refurbish original windows and doors, complete “spillover room” renovations and secure the church’s foundation, Sadler said.
The church was established as the first CME Church for African Americans in the state shortly after the Civil War, according to its website. Its first members, 200 former slaves and free blacks, who attended the all-white First United Methodist Church, were granted land on the crest of the hill it stand upon today by First United in order to establish their own place of worship. Under leadership of Joseph A. Beebe, a free black and local landowner, the wooden facility was built and named Christian Temple and often referred to as the “Hill Church” because of its raised location. Beebe served as pastor, elder and organizer of the church for only two years, but is lovingly remembered by church members and those in the community for his efforts to construct a church for his people, the website said.
In the late 1890s, the original facility was burned to the ground, and by the mid-1920s, the present-day structure was complete and renamed in honor of Beebe, the website said. In fall of 2014 at the Washington Civic Center, the church was displayed in a pictorial display of impressive facilities with historic architectural features. Over the years, much of its beauty and charm has been lost to deterioration or replaced by newer exterior renovations. For its historical and spiritual value to present-day members and the community, there is a renewed effort to restore the church to its original glory, Sadler said.
“I’ve always been strongly interested in my church’s history,” Sadler said. “I’m like a fourth-generation member, and the building itself is of interest to me, especially the architecture and design. It’s important to maintain the heritage of the church. It’s also important for African-American history in the state. That church has truly spiritual significance, and we want our ministry to keep going in that original building because that’s what means so much to us.”
For more information or to donate, visit www.beebememorialnc.com or on Facebook.com/beebememorial.