290 S. 1st St.
N 35° 43.467’ W 77° 12.338’
St. Martin’s Episcopal Church was established as a missionary station in 1868. The present structure was built in either 1879 or 1880. All materials were produced locally except for the bell and stained glass which were imported from England. The congregation has been inactive since the 1960s, but the building remains consecrated and its preservation is handled by the Historic Hamilton Commission, Inc. The property for the church was given by Col. Henry B. Short in 1879. The contract for the construction was drawn in the spring of 1881. The building was consecrated on May 17, 1882.
The Episcopal community in Hamilton was established as a mission out of Williamston in 1868 primarily through the efforts of Mary Anne Boyle (1813 – 1887). The congregation first met in the Conoho Masonic Lodge.
Ms. Boyle and her family came to Hamilton during the Civil War and eventually established a saw and shingle mill. She was also the owner of a hotel in the Waldo-Darden House.
The frame Victorian Gothic design was contributed by P.C. Hull of Norfolk and was probably modified by the carpenters, church members, and brothers David L. and James H. Martin.
The facility is still used for a special Christmas Mass to this day.
To make an appointment for entry, call 252-798-5561.
Junction of Spring Green Rd. & Hwy. 903
N 35° 53.667’ W 77° 11.663’
Situated at the northeast junction of a rural crossroads between the Roanoke River towns of Hamilton and Williamston, Spring Green Primitive Baptist Church’s pastoral setting has changed little from when this front-gable, frame meeting house was constructed over a century ago. Although the pine and oak trees cited in its December, 1878 deed no longer stand, the church and cemetery, which occupy a triangular-shaped, three-and-a-half acre tract spilling over on either side of Spring Green Road (SR 1409) and NC Highway 903, and are shaded by pines, an oak, and small flowering trees. The area immediately around the church is bare. The church and cemetery are surrounded by cultivated fields and small patches of pine woods, much as they were throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth century.
Due to an 1884 Martin County Courthouse fire, the actual first of three deeds for the Spring Green property cannot be found and the part of the second deed that contains the actual description of the land is missing. The deeds were issued in 1811, 1851 and 1878. The first building was log construction with a dirt floor, one door and one window behind the pulpit. The log structure was abandoned in 1851 when J.B. Griffin deeded the church a parcel of land and a second building was built. The second building burned in 1861 and the early church records are assumed to have been burned also.
In 1878, the land for the third building was deeded to the church by S.W. Outerbridge and R.D. Matthews. It is thought that the present church was constructed across the road from the one that burned. According to the Official Records of the War and Rebellion, Spring Green Church was occupied by Federal forces moving through the area in the Civil War.
The overall appearance of Spring Green Primitive Baptist Church is that of a large gabled box. There is its late Greek Revival style discerned by the building’s massing, the proportion of doors and windows, and small exterior details such as molded corner pilasters and handsome pidimented gable ends, each gable pierced by a small louvered ventilator. Dimensions of the 1879 weather-boarded church are thirty-six feet, four inches wide at its gable ends, and fifty-five feet, four-and-a-half inches long at its side elevations. The building rests on low handmade brick piers with a twentieth-century latticework brick infill. Three elongated six-over-six, double-hung sash windows pierce the church’s north and south walls, with two identical windows at the east gable end.
3781 Smithwick Creek Church Road
(Actually in the Farmlife community)
Jct. of NC 1106 at NC 1516
N 35° 43.467 W 77° 02.267’
Smithwick’s Creek Primitive Baptist Church is a historic Primitive Baptist church located near Farm Life, Martin County, North Carolina. It was built about 1897, and is a front-gable, unadorned frame building. The building measures 44 feet, 4 inches, wide and 60 feet, 4 inches deep. Also on the property is the former Smithwick’ s Creek Baptismal House, built in 1892 and moved to site November 2003. This was used by the congregation to change into dry clothes after being baptized.
The present church building is actually the third to be built on or near this identical spot. The Smithwick’s Creek Primitive Baptist congregation was organized in 1803 following three successful years of missionary visits by Elder Joseph Biggs. The first meeting house on this site was built in 1804 and completed by June 8th of that year. The first building was replaced by a much larger building in 1874. This second building burned in December of 1896 and was quickly replaced by the present structure. It was finished in time for the next meeting on February 27th of 1897.
The interior remains basically unchanged with beaded boards on the walls and ceiling. The pews are homemade benches with backs. There is a raised chancel which has a modest lectern for the minister with a couple of chairs behind the lectern.
The standard of the day for the Primitive Baptist was for the church to have two doors; men on one side and women on the other. This church has been rather recently utilized for some groups that broke away from other local churches if an effort to establish a new church.
The present building is actually the third to be built on or near this identical site. The congregation was organized in 1803 following three successful years of missionary visits by Elder Joseph Biggs.
Junction Hwy. 17 & East Blvd. – Williamston, NC
N 35° 53.667’ W 77° 11.663’
The first church for this congregation is thought to have been built around 1785 at a site near the intersection of U.S. 17 and Garrett Road (about a half mile from this building). The congregation grew to the point that the structure had to be enlarged in 1788. Groups of the member-ship were dismissed to form congregations at Smithwick’s Creek and Tranter’s Creek (Pitt County) in 1803. In 1804 a group was sent to the newly formed Conoho Log Chapel. The congregation continued its growth necessitating the erection of a much larger building in 1827 which was presumed to be located not far from this present structure. In 1857, Joseph d. Biggs, who lived across the road from this building, gave two acres of land for the new church. In return, Biggs was given the old church site and any timbers from the old building that were not needed for the new construction. In October of 1857, with half the funds needed for construction in hand, the work on this building began. The final cost was placed at $1,784.12.
Skewarkey Primitive Baptist Church has been an integral part of the Primitive Baptist organization in our part of the state. Cushing Biggs Hassell (1809 – 1880) served as pastor from 1842 until 1876 and was considered by many as the denomination’s leading preacher between 1850 and 1880. He served as moderator of the Kehukee Association, the nation’s oldest Primitive Baptist Association from 1859 until his death. His residence at 138 West Church Street in Williamston is one of the county’s Greek Revival landmarks.
Note the balcony in the picture to the right. Slaves and freed African-Americans also attended the services. There are five such balconies located in the Primitive Baptist churches.
(Built in 1922)
109 S. Broad Street, Everetts, NC 27825
N 35° 49.993’ W 77° 10.233’
The Everetts Christian Church was chartered with 78 members on Sunday, July 3, 1921. Revivals in the area had been being held on the second floor of the Champion Auto Building, later to become the Zimba Cola Bottling Company. The first services after the charter for the new congregation were preached by Rev. James M. Perry of Robersonville.
Then in 1922, Charles B. Roebuck and other men in the community went into the woods and cut the timbers for the new church building. When the church was built, there was no electricity so the church used a Delco generator.
On the 3rd Sunday in September, 1922, the first recorded church conference was held and the roll was called with 88 members attending and 30 absent. A vote was taken for a pastor for the year and Brother L.A. Mayo was unanimously elected.
Dedication of the building was on the third Sunday in November, 1923, with preaching by J.A. Taylor and L.A. Mayo. The service was followed by dinner on the grounds.
Everetts Christian Church is a one-story, brick-veneered, Romanesque Revival style building with a front-gable façade dominated by three arched stained-glass windows capped with corbelled brick hoods. The church is a product of the movement to incorporate popular national architectural styles into North Carolina churches during the first decades of the twentieth century.
Everetts Christian Church is still functioning as an active church with regular services.
(1830’s – 1840’s)
Located in the heart of Bear Grass, NC
N 35° 46.041’ W 77° 07.379’
Bear Grass Primitive Baptist Church is a historic Primitive Baptist church located on the north side NC 1001, 0.1 miles north of the junction with NC 1106 in Bear Grass, Martin County, North Carolina. It was built in 1877, and is a front-gable, two-bay frame building. The building measures 42 feet, 2 3/4 inches, wide and 64 feet, 4 1/2 inches deep. It rests on a brick pier foundation and it is believed that parts of the earlier building are incorporated into the current edifice.
The Bear Grass Primitive Baptist church is the oldest church building in Martin County. The building’s exact date of construction is difficult to determine because of its basically unadorned design. As with most of the Primitive Baptist churches, there are two front doors, one for men and one for the women. There is a hint of Greek revival architecture in the boxed cornices evident near the eaves, both front and rear of the building.
The interior of the structure has been remarkably maintained throughout the years. As with most of the early churches of this era, heat was provided by cast iron wood stoves with the metal flues going up and over to a single exterior vent pipe. The majority of the pews are the original slat-backed benches. Some of the early members would bring home-made cushions for personal comfort during a long sermon.
The Bear Grass Primitive Baptist Church congregation dates back to August 23, 1828, when a petition by local members of the Skewarkee Primitive Baptist Church (Williamston) requested formation of a new congregation. There had already been meetings in a building of some sort prior to the construction of the present facility. The church and congregation was formally constituted in July of 1829.
The church was still active well into the twentieth century. The building is still used for weddings and social events periodically and is maintained by local volunteers.
It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2005.
126 South Main Street
Robersonville, NC 270871
N 35° 49.410’ W 77° 15.196’
The First Christian Church of Robersonville was born out of a July 1876 revival meeting conducted by Josephus Latham and Stanley Ayers for the Disciples of Christ in Robersonville. At the end of the revival, the new church was organized with 28 newly baptized persons and 15 transfers, making the original congregation 43 members. The church was chartered on October 13, 1877 by the North Carolina Christian Missionary Society.
The church was organized in the Masonic Hall and was the first church organized in Robersonville. The first building was a frame structure erected in 1877 on a lot given by Henry D. Roberson. It was a simple wood building with two front doors.
After revivals in 1912 and 1913, new members marked the beginning of a new era for the church and as a result the present structure was erected in 1913. The first communion set and an old Bible from the old church are still present in the newer structure.
First Christian Church is a one-story, brick, Romanesque Revival style building with a cross-gable façade dominated by two sets of three arched stained-glass windows capped with corbelled, blonde-brick hoods. The design of the First Christian Church reflects the influence of popular national architectural styles in North Carolina churches during the first decades of the twentieth century.
The church is still a vibrant part of the community and is located at 126 South Main Street.
(1866 – 1870)
1260 St. Andrews St.
Jamesville, North Carolina
N 35° 48.583′ W 76° 53.850’
The Jamesville Primitive Baptist Church featured the classic two-front door type of entrance as was prevalent for most of the Primitive Baptist churches; one for the men and one for the women. The building is rectangular in shape with few adornments as was also the standard for this religion. It does, however, have large boxed cornices with deep frieze that returns to frame the front gable. This is part of the Greek Revival design which was popular during the antebellum period. The structure also has louvered gable vents and (at one time) featured the nine-over-six sash windows.
The Jamesville Primitive Baptist congregation was started in 1827 with about fifty members from the Skewarkey Baptist Church left to form a new congregation, known as Picot, about halfway between Williamston and Jamesville. Among those influenced by the church was young Clayton Moore (1814 – 1881), who later became a wealth planter. Moore became licensed to preach and served as pastor of this church from 1847 until his death.
Moore was a strong supporter of the Confederacy and as a result of his support, his plantation house was burned by the Union troops during the war. At the end of the war, the land-rich but cash-poor Moore struck a deal with the congregation: if it would give him the church building (presumably for use as a temporary dwelling), he would later build a new church in Jamesville.
By 1870, the congregation occupied its new structure (this building) and changed its name to the Jamesville Primitive Baptist Church.
Through the years the membership and activities declined. Then in 1953, Luther Hardison, the last surviving member and deacon, deeded the church property to the Jamesville Women’s Club.
The building was converted to accommodate the club’s needs by adding partitions, a kitchen and bathrooms. Some of the original pews were kept for seating.
310 W. Commerce Street – Oak City, NC 27857
N 35° 57.765’ W 77° 18.396’
The Oak City Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) was organized in 1919 under the guidance of Rev. James M. Perry. Perry preached every second Sunday afternoon. The church, with its twenty-five members, was enrolled into the North Carolina Missionary Society on November 6, 1919. The membership grew by an additional twenty-eight members in 1921. Then in July of 1922, an additional thirty-four members were added to the roll.
The Gothic Revival style building features five lancet-arched stained glass windows and a two-story bell tower with a broached hexagonal roof and a hip-roofed porch.
The church is still an active part of the Oak City community and holds regular services.
107 N. Outerbridge St., Robersonville, North Carolina
N 35° 49.467’ W 77° 15.483’
This church was built, contrary to the usual rural setting for most Primitive Baptist Churches, in the middle of what was once a booming railroad hub rather than on the outskirts of a town or out in the countryside. Mr. M.T. Lawrence and Stephen Outerbridge, founding members of the Robersonville Primitive Baptist church, were both members of the Kehukee Association, one of the largest congregational associations in Eastern North Carolina.
The construction also broke tradition with the single front entrance rather than the double front doors for gender separation. The facility is fifty-four feet by thirty-six feet frame construction. What was unusual for the time is that the design represented a more “worldly” appearance than most of the other Primitive Baptist buildings as seen in the more Colonial Revival rather than the Gothic Revival design. (Note the double section for the bell tower).
The interior featured fourteen pews, approximately ten feet wide which are lined up from the entrance to the raised preacher’s stand or raised dais. On either side of the preacher’s stand were five-panel doors leading to a hallway with an outside entrance. Back in the 1930s, bathrooms were added, one for the men on the south side and one for the women on the north side.
The Gothic Revival building was originally constructed in 1910 as a Primitive Baptist church building for the congregation, founded in 1883. The building was later restored in the 1990s by Dr. Everette James and was, for a while, home to the St. James Place Museum.