Brevard-Davidson River Presbyterian Church
BREVARD-DAVIDSON RIVER PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH
The history of Brevard-Davidson River Presbyterian Church began as one of three campgrounds established west of the Blue Ridge by the Reverend George Newton in the early 1790s named “Head of French Broad.” Several years later the name changed to “Great Plains of the French Broad” and was led by Samuel Davis, a licentiate for the ministry. Its location was given as being ”by the river under Indian Mountain” (Dunn's Rock). Mr. Davis was ordained in 1798 and installed as pastor of the Mamre Church, the name having been changed again at his request. The Mamre Church was located on the French Broad River just below the mouth of Dunn's Creek, under Dunn's Rock. Little is known about the Mamre Church except that it was carried in the Minutes of the General Assembly until 1829, most of the time as vacant.
Records of the Synod of the Carolinas indicate the existence of a church at Davidson River in 1800, with the Reverend Samuel Davis as pastor. The obituary of Capt. John Murray published in 1860 states that “he joined the Presbyterian Church at Davidson River in 1802 and was married in 1803.” It further states “the church at Davidson River becomes extinct and he lived twenty years destitute of church privileges.” Here again, as with Mamre, there is a period of time where little is known. It is likely that the Mamre Church and the church at Davidson River became one during this period.
Benjamin Davidson conveyed two acres of land known as Walnut Grove on the Davidson River in 1826 “for a free meeting house” and construction of a building began. The Davidson River Presbyterian Church was officially (re)organized in June, 1828 with 28 charter members, with the Reverend Christopher Bradshaw as pastor. As the church grew, a second church building was erected about 1855. This building housed both the church and a school known as the Davidson River Academy. This building was destroyed by fire in 1891 and the third building, the one we are familiar with through photos, was built.
Davidson River Presbyterian Church was noted for its missionary work, establishing five chapels in the area. One of these was the Brevard Chapel on Probart Street in Brevard, formed in 1887. In October, 1891, the chapel was officially organized as the Brevard Presbyterian Church, with 29 members. Over the next several decades, the two churches remained relatively small. Members voted to merge in February, 1931 to form the Brevard-Davidson River Presbyterian Church.
By 1950, the congregation realized that the church building on Probart Street was becoming inadequate and sold it to the Lutheran Church of the Good Shepard. The Franklin Hotel on East Main Street was purchased and plans were developed to construct a new church on that site. The cornerstone for the new church was laid on July 15, 1956; the first service in the new church was held on December 9, 1956. That structure, which included a fellowship hall and classrooms, continues to serve as the major portion of the facility. The present center wing of the church was added in 1965 to provide extra space for administration, church school and weekday preschool program. The latest expansion of the church was completed in 1996, providing a larger sanctuary, the Davidson River Fellowship Hall, kitchen and areas for administration and music.
Submitted by Gene & Sally Baker