Holly Springs’ Baptist Church was first organized in 1837. For the first one hundred years, the Baptist Church had one of the smallest congregations in Holly Springs, and unlike other local churches, the Baptist Church inhabited many different church buildings, on several different lots across town. The current Baptist Church building, erected in 1923, is the fourth Baptist Church building.
After the congregation’s initial founding in 1837, the Baptists built their first church in 1838, on a lot provided by early member James Greer. The first preacher was Reverend Thomas D. Mason. In 1843, this first church was struck by lightning and nearly destroyed. The building was rebuilt, but in 1849 the church was destroyed by lighting.
After several years without a permanent church building, the 2nd Baptist Church was built at the corner of today’s Market Street and Chulahoma Avenue, where the Sip N Snip barbershop is located in 2018. This frame building was used as the Baptist Church for over 40 years (see 1915 Sanborn Map above). During this time, the Baptist congregation remained small, with less than 50 members. This second church building survived the Civil War, being used as a hospital for injured Confederate soldiers. During the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1878, the Baptist congregation suffered horribly. Several congregants died of the Fever, including Reverend E. D. Miller’s wife and the church’s only deacon, H. A. McCrosky. In 1898, a new brick church was constructed on Van Dorn Avenue, and the 2nd church building was abandoned. It survived for another 50 years as the Brown Hardware Company warehouse until it was destroyed in 1948.
The third Baptist Church building was constructed on Van Dorn Avenue in 1898, and used as the Baptist Church until 1924. Dr. W. T. Lowery was the Baptist preacher during this time. This small but beautiful brick building had a prominent bell tower, and can be see in several turn-of-the-century photographs (see above). During the early 1920s, the Baptist Church experienced an explosion in growth, attracting many new members. Soon, the Baptist Church has the largest white congregation in town, a trend that has continued to this day. To accommodate this growth, a new church building was planned after less than 25 years. This third church building became a movie theater after the Baptists left (see 1925 Sanborn Map 1 above), before it was destroyed in the early 1930s to make room for a service station. That service station was also destroyed, and today this location is an empty lot across from the current Baptist Church.
Under Reverend E. L. Wesson, the fourth and current Baptist Church was constructed in 1923. This building resembles a modern Greek temple, with a front portico supported by four large columns. The building costed $50,000, and was funded by loans, bonds and by selling the Baptists’ church bell to the Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church. By 1937, the building was fully paid off. Today the Baptist Church remains the largest congregation in Holly Springs, and the congregation continues to worship in their nearly one hundred year old building.