APTA to honor four historic buildings today

October 21, 2007

Four historic Murfreesboro buildings are honored by the Association for the Preservation of Tennessee Antiquities (APTA) today.

TMP photo by Kelly Hite.  First Baptist Church was honored with a marker from the APTA today.  The church was built in 1920.

The APTA will place markers outside the East Main Street homes of Matt and Pat Ward, Jim and Marietta Bishop and APTA Rutherford County Chapter President Steve Cates, as well as the First Baptist Church on East Main, where the unveilings begin at 2 p.m.

“We are real proud of the marker. The present building is 87 years old and we’re proud of standing on that corner,” said Ida Read, First Baptist Church history committee chairman.

Read has belonged to the church for 75 years, becoming a member when her family moved from Bedford County. She said over the years other pastors have suggested moving to a larger location but the congregation is happy on the corner of East Main and Spring Streets.

Her favorite memory of the church is from the Depression when a bank threatened foreclosure on the church.

“And one little girl, Joanne Welchance, gave a dollar out of her piggy bank to repurchase the church. People started giving money and finally we got the notes back and could repurchase the church,” she recalled. “We had the notes burned on the pulpit.”

Without Joanne, the church may have never recovered. The 1920 structure was honored with a historic marker today.

Cates’ 1922 home was built by Bell Brothers Construction Co. for Foster Spain as a smaller version of the home at 730 East Main, now owned by the Murfrees.

“I always feel that I am but a tenant and that the real ‘occupants’ of the home are the Spains and the Summars, who held it the longest and had the greatest influence over it in this community,” Cates said of his home.

Some remember piano music issuing from the front room of the home in the mornings, as Frances Spain was a piano teacher and taught from there, Cates explained.

“Lurleen Rushing remembers walking by on her way to First Grade at Campus School in 1925 and hearing, through the open windows of the house, the sounds of piano playing,” Cates said.

The Ward’s home, which is also honored, is currently home to another piano teacher, Pat Ward.

The 1903 home was built across the street from and the same year as the Mooney School for Boys, owner Matt Ward explained, which would become the first four-year high school in the county.

It was also home to Murfreesboro Mayor John Holloway from 1941-1948, before it came into the hands of Morris Hoover, owner of Hoover Furniture Store formerly on East Main Street, Ward said.

“I don’t want to feel overly important because of it,” Ward said about the marker. “The only notable thing about this house is that it survived.”

Properties must be at least 75 years old to be considered for APTA markers. The black and green signs bear the date the house was built, name of the builder and significant owners in white.

The APTA was established in 1951 to preserve and maintain historic sites that played a role in Tennessee history and culture.

For more information about the Association for the Preservation of Tennessee Antiquities, visit www.theapta.org.

Michelle Willard can be contacted at 869-0816 or [email protected]

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