Due to the fact that the early records of this church were destroyed by fire, the following facts have been taken from a Yorkville newspaper dated 1889, from archives in the Broad River Baptist Association office, memories of friends and former members, and minutes of meetings after 1909 that still exist today.
The First Baptist Church of Blacksburg was organized on December 4, 1876. However, at this time, the church was called Berea Baptist church. The church itself was an offshoot of Antioch Baptist Church which, in fact, was an offshoot of Buffalo Baptist Church, one of the oldest Baptist churches in the state. According to the 1889 issue of the Yorkville Enquirer, Berea Baptist Church began with a total of fifty members. Rev. W.L. Brown was called to be the first pastor of Berea Baptist Church.
The original structure of Berea Baptist Church was located near the corner of Highway 29 and Mountain Street, near the old Berea Cemetery. This building was used as a church, school house, and community meeting hall.
Records indicate that this building was constructed by Osborne Gunthrop, gradfather of Dr. A.L. Little, Charles Byers, grandfather of J.H. Kinard and W.C. Gaffney, and Bob Blanton, Mrs. Cabe Carlton’s step-father.
The first people to be baptized in the original building were Mrs. Sallie Little and Mrs. Mattie Bridges.
According to records printed in 1962, “The Women’s Missionary Society of First Baptist Church was organized on February 7, 1898 with 18 members by the Rev. J.D. Bailey, who pastored the church during this time. Mrs. William Wilkie was the first presiding officer of the society and Miss Ella Little was the second President.
In 1915 there were two “Circles” organized in the Missionary Society. The “Watson Circle” and the “Willingham Circle” started. Later, a pastor’s wife, Mrs. S.W. Dana organized two other circles, the “Elizabeth Hardin Circle” and the “Mary Earle Circle.” These two circles were named after two “departed saints” of the church.
The first mention of building a new church facility was during the pastorate of Rev. B.L. Hoke, great-grandfather of Karen Addington. Rev. Hoke (1906-1909) served a number of churches in the area over a number of years, including Berea, Draytonville, Buffalo, and Nazareth. A committee, consisting of B.J. Gold, J.F. Cline, R.A. Westbrooks, Mrs. Mary Earle, and Mrs. Ed Turner, was formed to search for a lot to construct the new church. The committee made several reports but no action was taken to purchase land or build a building during that time period.
In April 1909, Mrs. Mary Earle offered to give the church a lot for the purpose of building a church. Due to some opposition as to this being a desirable location, the lot was deeded back to Mrs. Earle in December 1910.
During the pastorate of Rev. C.W. Payseur, the property on the corner of Cherokee and Rutherford Streets was purchased from Mr. D.D. Gaston, relative to Gaston Bettis, for $500.00. In the Spring of 1912, construction began on the new structure. Records show that W.A. Blalock and A.M. Bridges broke the first dirt. Mrs. D.A. Gold placed the first brick, and Miss Emma Cornwell placed the first mortar.
The first service in the new church facility was held in June, 1913, and, at that time, the name of the church was changed from Berea Baptist Church to the First Baptist Church of Blacksburg. Mr. Ben Ramseur, great-uncle to Maxine Gault, was the first person baptized in the new facility. During the latter part of 1917, a heating plant was installed in the church.
In 1922, Mr. Tracy Hardin donated a house to be used as a parsonage and six acres of land to the church. The home was formerly occupied by Ira B. Hardin. In June, 1929, the church let a contract with Mr. Julian Turney to build the first Sunday School rooms at a cost of $2,300.
During the pastorate of Rev. Walter N. Long (1932-1936), a used pipe organ was installed at a cost of $1,700. The pipe organ was purchased from the H.D. Wheat Home, which was one of the most lucrative homes in Gaffney, South Carolina.
During the pastorate of Rev. T.L. Ulmer (1942-1950), the property behind the church (where the existing educational building sits today was purchased and a building fund was started.
During the pastorate of Rev. James P. Stokes (1951-1956) a building committee was formed to build a new Educational building. The committee included Dr. Lee Roy Cates, Mrs. Lee Roy Cates, Mrs. Carl Neal, Marvin Whisonant, and George W. Bridges. A Finance Committee was also formed which included Mr. B.S. Bonebrake, Rev. James P. Stokes, and Mr. J.N. Anglin.
Mr. Meek Williams and Linda Roberts, the oldest and youngest members of the Church present that day, broke ground for the new building. The building was built and furnished at a cost of $87,500. The building was entered for the first time on Sunday, June 17, 1956, and, on June 24, the church celebrated Homecoming with “Dinner on the Grounds” served for the first time in the new social hall downstairs.
Rev. Coy R. Miller (1957-1967) was one of the longest serving pastors of the church. While at the church, he was instrumental in organizing the Brotherhood. The State Director of the Brotherhood in South Carolina, Mr. John Farmer, directed the organizational meeting. In October, 1957, the church adopted the “Forward Program of Church Finance” and successfully continued that for a number of years to come.
The debt on all church property was paid off and a note burning service was held on June 11, 1961, to celebrate the accomplishment. A year later on July 5, 1962, the church voted to begin construction on the present sanctuary. The sanctuary at that time was destroyed and church members met in the social hall during the construction of the new facility.
To construct the new church building, the church family decided to elect ten committees with a member representing each resident family. Mr. Ralph Day was the General Chairman and Rev. Miller served as a consultant.
Chairmen of the other committees were, Mr. Marvin Whisonant (Finance), Mr. G.W. Bridges (Planning), Mrs. Madge Roark (Furnishing), Irene Jones (Color Scheme), Mr. Bennett Wilson (Lighting and Sound), Mr. Robert C. Clary (Heating and Air), Mr. B.S. Bonebrake (Landscaping), Mr. Clarence B. Lee (Musical Instruments), Mr. D.J. Hardin (Inspection), and Mr. Clyde C. Tharpe (Disposal of Old Building).
The new Sanctuary was completed in 1963 at a cost of $61,000. The Allen Organ and Steinway Piano cost was $7,935.15 and the cost of putting air conditioning in the existing educational space was $5,800. The total cost of construction, furnishing, and renovations was $74,735.15. That dept was paid off on May 2, 1979.
In the early 1970’s, the property at 108 Lenzer Circle was purchased by Dr. T.A. Campbell Sr. for the purpose of building a new parsonage. That home was completed in February, 1972, and the Rev. Oliver Price and family were the first to use the new location. The note on that debt was paid and a note burning service was held on February 23, 1975.
In October, 1976, the church voted to sell the old parsonage and grounds and purchase the entire area inside of Lenzer Circle for a future recreational facility. The old parsonage and 4.5 acres of land sold for $15,000. That amount was paid down on the cost of the Lenzer Circle property which was $18,000, for 4.2 acres of land.
The Lenzer Circle property was developed to include a softball field, a volleyball area, a paved basketball court, two tennis courts with lights, a children’s play area, and a picnic shelter that included restrooms, water fountains, kitchen and storage, parking, and a six foot fence to enclose the area.
On December 1, 1993, under the pastorate of Rev. Don Whitener (1986-1994), the church purchased the property and buildings immediately next to the existing church sanctuary from Sara W. Wilkins for a cost of $35,000. That debt was paid off on January 16, 1998. During Don Whitener’s Ministry, Vincent Tharpe and Linda Meetze began the annual “Singing Christmas Tree” presentations. The program was held annually until the retirement of Linda Meetze in 2014.
The next major renovation and building came under the pastorate of Rev. Ken Reid (1995-2003). In the Fall of 1995, the church reaffirmed the idea of seeking to build a recreational facility with a kitchen and classrooms beside the existing church sanctuary. In June, 1996, the old grocery store building (Sara Wilkins property) was demolished to make way for construction.
In the Winter of 1997, the church spent approximately $30,000, on renovations and repairs to the existing educational building and the exterior of the sanctuary. New carpeting for the education building, painting, guttering, steeple work, and hat and air conditioning update were completed by Spring, 1997.
In December, 1997, a new Allen Organ was purchased and installed in the Sanctuary after repairs were no longer possible. A church challenge drive paid the total cost of the organ prior to installation. The cost of the organ was approximately $27,000.
In August, 1999, the church voted to accept a bid from Roebuck Builders to build a new Family Life Center with adequate kitchen facilities, basketball court, and classrooms on the first floor with offices and storage. Total cost of the construction, including paving, furnishings, and bleachers, was $520,000. The church only borrowed $60,000 to complete the project and that amount was paid in full in April, 2001.
Much of the money for the Family Life Center came from the generous donation of Adleen R. Turner, who left the church 17% of her estate upon her death. The estimated amount of income from that source was $320,000.
The Family Life Center was dedicated on May, 2000, and has been a tremendous addition to the fellowship and ministries of the church.
In July, 2001, the church purchased the old library building, located just behind the existing sanctuary and educational building. That building presently serves as the church’s offices.
In 2003, under the interim pastorate of Rev. Billy Sanders, a new bus was purchased and is still used by the church today.
In late 2014 under the pastorate of Rev. Scott Hammett (2007-2016), the present sanctuary was renovated.
Last updated September, 2016 by Will Cobb