City Directories and History: The First Presbyterian Church of Woodruff (since 1953 the Woodruff Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church) is significant as a fine example of small town church architecture designed by prominent Spartanburg County architect Luther D. Proffitt. Throughout his career, Proffitt designed numerous kinds of buildings, but he was most prolific in his church designs. The structure was completed in 1911 and formally dedicated in 1912. Its combination of architectural styles, both interior and exterior, creates an exceptional structure. It is an eclectic structure, incorporating both Second Gothic Revival and Romanesque Revival elements. The building’s rectangular plan, hipped roof with cross-gables on the south and east sides, and a two-story tower at the southeast corner all replicate a plan utilized in Romanesque churches. The building is constructed of brick veneer over a wood frame. The main stained glass windows reflect the Romanesque Revival style with their traditional arched design, while the pointed arch windows on the tower suggest a late Gothic Revival style. The entire roof is covered with standing seam metal and has a simple, boxed cornice on all sides. Listed in the National Register January 26, 2005.
The first Associate Reformed Presbyterian service in the Woodruff area was held by Rev. Ebenezer Pressly McClintock, who was licensed to preach in 1869 and visited the area shortly after. He preached for an unknown period in an old store building on what is now South Main Street. A small group of believers gathered together, meeting for a few years with no church organization. In June 1879, the church was organized by Second Presbytery of the ARP Church. There were twelve charter members: Sarah Ann Bryson Anderson, John N. Anderson, Elbert B. Anderson, W. J. Bryson, Nancy Thompson Bryson, R. F. Bryson, Josephine Haddon Bryson, L. F. Pearson, Martha Bryson Pearson, Elizabeth Ann Bryson Wright, C. M. Wright, and Sarah Bryson Wright. The first elders were W. J. Bryson and C. M. Wright, and L. F. Pearson was named a deacon.
The first installed pastor was Rev. Hugh Roderic McAulay, a native of Mecklenburg County, N. C. He graduated from Erskine Theological Seminary and was licensed to preach in 1877. After serving in mission churches in Texas and Virginia, he came to Woodruff to supply the church in 1882 and was called as pastor in 1884. The church began to develop, and a Ladies’ Benevolent Society was organized in 1885 with 13 members. Rev. McAulay left in 1888 and the next pastor was Rev. Samuel Watson Reid. Rev. Reid was a native of the Steele Creek area of Mecklenburg County, N. C. and a graduate of Erskine College and Seminary. Woodruff was his first pastorate, and he served from 1893 to 1897. During his pastorate a Young Peoples’ Christian Union was organized to serve the youth of the church and community.
Rev. William Barkley Lindsay was born in Chester County in 1871 and was a graduate of Erskine College and Seminary. He came to Woodruff as his first pastorate in October 1897. It is unclear where the church was worshipping during the first two decades. In 1900, a church building was erected at 300 West Georgia Road. Rev. Lindsay also was active in beginning the worship services in nearby Spartanburg which resulted in the organization of a church there.
Subsequent ministers included Rev. Robert Ross Caldwell, Rev. Leon Taylor Pressly, Rev. David Palmer Patterson, and Rev. Robert Watson Carson. Woodruff was a small community and was heavily dependent on the textile industry. The ARP congregation never developed into a strong church. During most of the latter twentieth century, it was too small to secure a full-time pastor and was served by stated supplies and by ministers from nearby churches such as Bethel in Ora and Spartanburg.
In 2006, the church was closed by Second Presbytery, and most of the remaining members were transferred to the Spartanburg church. The former church building is now used as a business.
Information written and contributed by P.M. Gettys – 2015
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