City Directories and History:
The idea for a second Presbyterian church in Anderson actually came early in 1900 from the Rev. S.J. Cartledge, the pastor of Anderson’s First Presbyterian Church. By the summer, a petition was presented to the congregation with fifty signatures supporting a new church. At 3:30 pm on the afternoon of Sunday, September 23, 1900, Central Presbyterian Church was organized in the sanctuary of First Presbyterian Church by the commissioners appointed at the recent session of the now defunct South Carolina Presbytery. The two churches would remain close over the decades.
The first elders of Central Presbyterian were James Henry Anderson, George Newton Crawford Boleman (who wrote a brief history of the church), Dr. Beverly A. Henry, Jr., R.J. Poole, and John W. Thomson. Over time, the number of elders would increase as the church grew. The first deacons were Dr. James Calhoun Harris, J.T. Holleman (treasurer), John Kyle Hood, Sr. (chairman), Marion M. Mattison, D.R. Morrow, James Thompson Pearson, and Thomas Anderson Ratliffe (secretary). What the church now needed was a home, but that was several years away.
With the blessing of the city fathers, the Central Presbyterian congregation met each Sunday in the city hall auditorium. The first sermon was preached on September 30, 1900, by the Rev. S.L. Wilson. The church was poor in its early days. The total sum of its possession included a Bible for the pulpit and a score of second-hand hymnals.
Central Presbyterian’s first full-time pastor was the Rev. Hugh R. Murchison from Edisto Island, South Carolina. Rev. Murchison was known for his strong sermons. He led the church for four years, during which time the membership increased from eighty to one hundred and thirty-five, two additional elders were added, D.H. Russell and R.A. Mayfield, and a new facility was built.
A lot located at the northwest corner of North Main and West Orr Streets, was purchased from Mrs. Kate B. Crayton Maxwell in 1902 for $2,000. The church paid $1,700, and Mrs. Maxwell contributed the remaining $300. Prior to the church, nothing had been built on the site. The church was designed by Wilson & Edwards, Architects, Columbia, South Carolina. The contractor was Grandy & Jones of Greenville. The Anderson Intelligencer reported that the cornerstone was laid on June 2, 1902, but William Watkins, in his church history, said that it was laid on June 6. The following is the program of the exercises at the laying of the cornerstone of Central Presbyterian Church:
The cornerstone will be laid at high noon on Monday, June 2, by Worshipful Master T.C. Walton, of Hiram Lodge, No. 68, A.F.M., S.C., with the assistance of the members of the Lodge.
Song by choir
Prayer by Rev. O.J. Copeland, chaplain; reading of list of articles to be deposited in cornerstone by G.N.C. Boleman, secretary; laying of cornerstone by Worshipful Master, with usual Masonic rites
Song by choir
Addresses by Rev. S.J. Cartledge, Rev. B.M. Anderson, Rev. D.W. Keller
Song by choir
Addresses by Rev. M.B. Kelly, Rev. William Brown, Rev. J.D. Chapman; announcement by Worshipful Master T.C. Walton
Song by choir
Closing by Rev. H.R. Murchison
More detail about the ceremony was provided by the Anderson Intelligence on June 4, 1902:
In laying the Corner Stone the historic Lafayette trowel was used. It is of sterling silver, with ivory handle, and its history dates back to 1825, when it was first used by Lafayette in laying the Corner Stone of the monument erected to the Baron De Kalb, who was the friend and companion-in-arms of Lafayette. On the occasion of the laying of the Corner Stones of the Masonic Temple and the Confederate monument this trowel was used. Many ribbons attached to the handle of this trowel indicate the many similar occasions on which it has been used. In the Corner Stone of the Central Presbyterian Church were placed a roll of officers and members of the different churches of the city; roll of officers and members of the Central Presbyterian Church and Sunday School, by classes; members of the ladies’ societies of tho church; manual of the city schools, 1899-1900; copies of the newspapers published in the city; roll of officers and members of Hiram Lodge, A. F. M.; masonic apron; program of exercises on this occasion; and roll of the City Council and employees.
The first service was held on December 28, 1902. The Anderson Intelligencer of December 31, 1902, reported the following:
Services were held in the new Central Presbyterian Church for the first time last Sunday morning, and it was a great event for this energetic new colony. Leaving the First Presbyterian Church, like a hive of young bees determined upon founding a colony of their own, their work has been faithful, energetic and effective. This beautiful church is a fitting monument to their fidelity to Presbyterianism, love to all mankind and devotion to the cause of Christ. In every detail and appointment this handsome edifice, though small, is complete. The pulpit was occupied both morning and night by the pastor, Rev. H.R. Murchison, and his sermons were appropriate, impressive and abounding in wholesome advice to the young Church. at night the congregation of the First Presbyterian Church, together with the pastor, Rev. S.J. Cartledge, gave up their night service to join the young Church in their devotions, and as one people their hearts were lifted to God in grateful thanks for what had been accomplished and for blessings and guidance for the future.
The Rev. Joseph E. James was the second pastor. He came to Central Presbyterian fresh out of seminary in 1904, and led the church for four years. He was young and lacking in experience, but he led the church through another period of growth. Membership rose from one hundred and thirty-five to two hundred and five.
Dr. Bunyan McLeod of Bennettsville, South Carolina, came to the church in the fall of 1908, as its third pastor. Sadly, there were two losses during Dr. McLeod’s pastorate. On November 23, 1908, the church lost Elder R.J. Poole, the first elder to pass away. On September 18, 1911, Elder J. Perry Glenn became the second elder to pass away. Despite these losses, the membership of Central Presbyterian Church continued to grow, increasing to three hundred and fifty.
The Rev. D. Witherspoon Dodge was called to the church in 1913, and his four-year term would be the most controversial period in the church’s history. Rev. Dodge was eventually removed from the church in 1917, and tried in church court for “entertaining views at variance with the church standards.” Toward the end of 1917, the Rev. Paul S. McChesney was unanimously elected by the church’s membership to be Central Presbyterian’s fifth pastor.
From its construction, Central Presbyterian Church was a landmark in downtown Anderson, and appears in many of the photographs and images of North Main Street. Its tall steeple was unique in downtown Anderson: Central Presbyterian Church is the only church in the downtown district that was built on Main Street.
It was in 1950, that Rev. William McLeod Frampton, Jr., was called to serve as pastor of Central Presbyterian Church. He was pastor until 1957, and oversaw the church’s move from North Main Street to North Boulevard. In fact, Rev. Frampton had only been at Central Presbyterian for a few weeks when the church voted to sell the Main Street property and purchase a new site. Rev. Frampton accepted a call on April 18, 1950, and the church voted to sell the property on April 30, 1950.
The architectural style chosen for the 1957 church was a common one in the mid-20th century in American religious architecture. It was basically a modified meetinghouse style with large columns on one end and a tall steeple that housed the bell. This model was used by hundreds of churches, mostly protestant, across the United States. The first service in the new facility was held on September 8, 1857. Light rains fell throughout the day but that did not dampen the spirit of the hundreds of worshipers who crowded into the new facility. Three services were held that day, at 9:00 a.m., 11:00 a.m., and 6:00 p.m. The final service as conducted by Dr. Richard Gillespie of First Presbyterian Church. Youth groups from Central and First Presbyterian acted as tour guides, showing visitors the wonders of the new facility including the 900-seat sanctuary and the 600-seat education room.
Since then, eight more pastors have led Central Presbyterian Church, for a total of seventeen pastors since 1901.
List of Pastors
- Hugh R. Murchison (1901-1904)
- Joseph E. James (1904-1908)
- Bunyan McLeod (1908-1912)
- D. Witherspoon Dodge (1913-1917)
- Paul S. McChesney (1917-1924)
- John McSween (1925-1928)
- Joseph Hollingsworth Carter, Sr. (1929-1945)
- Samuel Evans Brown (1946-1950)
- William McLeod Frampton, Jr. (1950-1958)
- William Glenn Dorris (1959-1966)
- Martin L. Harkey, Jr. (1967-1971)
- William David Brown (1978-1989)
- Dwyn Mecklin Mounger (1990-1995)
- John C. Livingston (November 1, 1995-January 15, 1997)
- J. Richard Hobson (January 15, 1997-June 30, 1997)
- George W. Day (June 30, 1997-May 15, 1998)
- David John Bailey (1998-present-day)
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