Log in Newsletter

Fayetteville History: 'The city of churches'


By Weeks Parker

Fayetteville has been called ‘The City of Churches.’ When I was a boy living with my parents, my sister Vivian and my aunt Lucy at 109 Rowan Street near Saint James Square, I often walked into my backyard and could hear lovely music coming from the chimes in the steeple of the First Presbyterian Church on the corner of Ann and Bow streets. I could also hear the chimes from the First Baptist Church on the corner of Old and Anderson streets across from the old YMCA building. Within walking distance of my home there were several other churches that are still being used for worship today.

Saint Joseph’s Episcopal Church on the corner of Ramsey and Moore streets is one of the most historic churches in town. It was chartered in 1873, and it had a lovely hand-pumped pipe organ that was donated by Eva Cochran in the year 1896. The pipe organ was one of two of the oldest of its kind in the United States.

Another church near my former home is the Saint John’s Episcopal Church on Green Street across the street from the post office. This church has some of the most beautiful stained-glass windows I have ever seen. The land for Saint John’s Church was purchased from the First Presbyterian Church in 1817. Next door to the Presbyterian Church was the first Catholic Church to be built in the state of North Carolina. It was across from Liberty Point and near my father’s Champion Automotive Equipment Company Store. When I was a child, I often enjoyed riding my tricycle on the sidewalk in front of that church.

One of the oldest African American churches in Fayetteville is the Evans Metropolitan AME Zion Church on North Cool Spring Street. It was built in 1893- 1894, and it features Gothic Revival architecture. Henry Evans, the founder and pastor of this lovely church, is buried in the church basement.

Another prominent African American church was the Presbyterian Church at the foot of Haymount Hill. It had a tall steeple that was visible all the way to the Market
House. On top of Haymount Hill was the circular sanctuary of the Highland Presbyterian Church. A new sanctuary was later built, and the circular sanctuary was
demolished. The nephew of former President Jimmy Carter was married in the present sanctuary.

There were, and still are, so many churches in our city that it is hard to count them all. Fayetteville has 40 churches that are 100 or more years old. Before the 1760s, places of worship were in private homes, and some were in brush arbors. In the late 1800s, the Market House was also used as a temporary church sanctuary. Today there are about 257 active churches in the Fayetteville area.

Someone once said, “There is a church on almost every block.” If you are looking for a church in this city, you should have no problem finding one.