Local historian receives award for book on Tryon Presbyterian Church

Published 11:39 am Tuesday, December 5, 2023

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Robin S. Lattimore, of Rutherfordton, was presented the North Carolina Presbyterian Historical Society’s annual book award on Sunday, December 3, at Rutherfordton Presbyterian Church. Lattimore received the award for his book Tryon Presbyterian Church: A Centennial Celebration 1922-2022, published last autumn. Sam Martin, president of the NCPHS, made the presentation. 

“The North Carolina Presbyterian Historical Society values the work of historians who record the stories of the development and growth of congregations throughout this state,” Martin said. “Robin Lattimore’s book on Tryon Presbyterian Church is an important contribution to the history of Presbyerians here in North Carolina and across the southeast.”  

Tryon Presbyterian Church was established on October 22, 1922, in Tryon, and was originally chartered by a commission of the Kings Mountain Presbytery, under the direction of the North Carolina Home Mission Board. Originally consisting of 14 charter members, the church has a membership today of more than 300.

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Lattimore’s 148-page, heirloom-quality book features a 30,000 word manuscript, more than 150 vintage illustrations, including original floor plans and architectural renderings, and dozens of contemporary photographs. It also contains a roster and biographical sketch of all duly-installed ministers at the church, all session members and deacons serving the congregation since 1922 and historical vignettes from every year of the church’s history. 

Highlights of the book include a detailed account of the construction of both the congregation’s earliest church building located on Freeman Hill Road in Tryon, as well as the current church building, erected in 1958, on Harmon Field Road.

Cover illustration of Lattimore’s book Tryon Presbyterian Church: A Centennial Celebration 1922-2022, published last autumn.

Special emphasis was made by Lattimore to detail the work of architects Shannon Meriwether and Holland Brady in designing the 1958 church building, as well as the story of that building’s impressive stained glass windows manufactured by the Wilbur H. Burnham Studio of Boston, Massachusetts. In addition to its work in Tryon, the Burnham Studio also created 17 windows for the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., and others for the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City, for the Princeton University Chapel, and for the American Church in Paris, France.

Also featured is the story of Tryon Presbyterian Church’s memorial bell tower which contains a single 500-pound bell cast by the Van Bergen Bell Foundries, of Greenwood, South Carolina, as well as the story of the church’s 1,669 pipe, 3-manual organ (with 25-note set of chimes and a Trompette En Chamade rank of festival pipes) manufactured by M.P. Moller, Inc., of Hagerstown, Maryland, and installed in 1982.

Lattimore conducted the book project as an independent historian and donated his work to Tryon Presbyterian Church. Copies were distributed to all members of the church and are available at local libraries and at several historical repositories across North Carolina.

Lattimore, who serves as an official historian of Rutherford County and is president of the Rutherford County Historical Society, is the author of more than 45 books and scholarly monographs that celebrate the people, places and traditions of the American South. He was named the North Carolina Historian of the Year in 2009, and in 2013 was bestowed the legendary Order of the Long Leaf Pine, North Carolina’s highest civilian honor.


Submitted by Rev. Lesley Bush



Cover illustration of Lattimore’s book Tryon Presbyterian Church: A Centennial Celebration 1922-2022, published last autumn.