Gone is the Pacolet Baptist Amen Corner

Published 9:44 am Friday, March 28, 2008

The building held many memories for a lot of people, including me: it contained the Amen Corner where I sat with my grandfather, T. A. Rippy, for church services there in the 40&squo;s. Most of the other worshippers have gone to their reward, but then there are all those rug makers who learned their craft from Ron Mosseller while he maintained a studio there, starting in 1978.

Mosseller&squo;s rugs adorn the Governor&squo;s mansions of both Virginia and North Carolina, the Inn at Colonial Williamsburg, and the King Ranch in Texas, among other notable places. Smaller ones adorn the homes of people (and their friends) who made them in classes, my friends Louise Averill Thompson and Madelyn Dedmondt Meyer among them. The classes consisted mostly of hobbyists, but one Preston MacAdoo of Vermont later opened a business to make rugs professionally.

Ron called me right after I retired here to see whether I could help him with an enormous rug that was festooned on scaffolding covering half the floor space of the building. I had no idea what I might contribute, but in looking over the situation I discovered what appeared to me to be a misalignment. Ron agreed, corrected it, and went on to complete the rug without further difficulty.

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There were aerobics classes in the building before Ron acquired it, and Col. Norme Frost added modern electrical wiring during his tenure. Ron said that the wiring enabled him to use the building for rug making. I have not been able to find out how Col. Frost used the building; his son Jerry has no idea.

The building was taken down piece by piece in order to salvage its materials to be recycled into other buildings. Kipp McIntyre is using some of the siding, a perfect match, in restoring the childhood home of Eunice Waymon/Nina Simone in Tryon.

Phillip Price of Asheville Architectural Salvage has had a crew of men taking the building apart for several months. He has about a thousand pounds of bat guano removed from the sagging ceiling, a few hundred solid clay bricks, and lots of century-old wood to be re-used after all the nails are removed. Price commented that there were no large timbers in the building, mostly 2x4s framing the walls with no jacks or headers at the doors and windows. He marveled that those walls supported that large, heavy roof, surmising that the exterior siding and beadboard interior wall covering braced the studs adequately.

The church people built a more permanent brick building around the corner on Skyuka Road and worship there now. Few there be who remember the preachers, Sunday School teachers, piano players, deacons, song leaders and faithful members who kept the church going in that big old building on what used to be the main road (NC 108) through Lynn. We sometimes had a regular preacher, but more often we shared the minister with another church.

The Rev. Brock Henry came over from Tryon First Baptist many times; another favorite of my grandparents was a Mr. Keels, I believe. Perry Coggins was one of my Sunday School teachers (W. W. Ballard taught the Men&squo;s Bible Class that I attended for some years with my grandfather). Floy Blackwell played the piano vigorously to inspire the hymn singing in the 40s.

A teacher asked her newest pupil whether he had a home yet, and he responded, &dquo;Oh, we have a home, we just haven&squo;t found a house to put it in.&dquo; Likewise, the Pacolet Baptist Church left one house and built another one more suited to their needs. When their former house no longer suited anyone&squo;s needs, it was taken apart to fill many and various needs. This is perhaps a happier ending than might have been, for as with organ donations, the tired old building lives on in other buildings as well as in our memories.