THE HARRISON METHODIST CHURCH
Click here for photo gallery of
the Harrison Methodist Church.
This magnificent building was destroyed by fire on March 17, 1984
This report was written on May 7, 1980.
1. Name and location of the property: The property known as the
Harrison Methodist Church is located on U.S. 521 in the southern section of
Mecklenburg County, below Pineville, NC.
2. Name, address and telephone number of the present owner and
occupant of the property:
The present owner and occupant of the property is:
Harrison Methodist Church
RFD 1 Box 474
Pineville, N.C. 28134
3. Representative photographs of the property: This report
contains representative photographs of the property.
4. A map depicting the location of the property: This report
contains a map which depicts the location of the property.
5. Current Deed Book Reference of the property: The most recent
deed to this property is received in Deed Book 1386, Page 315. Tax Parcel
6. A brief historical sketch of the property:
Local tradition holds that a Methodist congregation began to assemble for
worship near the site of Harrison Church in 1785.1 Initially
served by circuit riders, the people gathered in an open air arbor, a type
of religious edifice commonly found in eighteenth century Mecklenburg.2
Controversy surrounds the source of the church's name. About 1775, a group
of settlers migrated to the region from the vicinity of Harrisonburg, Va.
Among them were Tunis Hood and his wife, Elizabeth Harrison Hood. Their
grandson, John Harrison Hood, commonly known as "Harrison Hood," although a
member of Providence Presbyterian Church, donated the land and the logs and
provided the slaves to erect the first church building sometime between 1805
and 1815. Consequently, the congregation named the church in honor of their
benefactor.3 Another version is that the church acquired its
appellation from Samuel Harrison, a prominent Methodist in the community.
Indeed, George Washington ate breakfast at Harrison's home on his journey
from Camden, S.C., to Charlotte in June 1791. Also, Bishop Francis Asbury,
the father of American Methodism, visited the Harrison community in November
Harrison Methodist Church prospered. Indicative of its strength was the
fact that Harrison Church gave rise to four other congregations: Hebron
Methodist Church (no longer extant), Pineville Methodist Church, Marvin
Methodist Church, and Pleasant Hill Methodist Church.5 In 1844,
Harrison joined with other congregations in the South in forming the
Methodist Episcopal Church South, in defense of the institution of slavery.6
The 1840's also witnessed the destruction of the initial church building by
fire. A frame building was erected in 1848 to house the Harrison
congregation. Despite the agony and economic hardships wrought by the Civil
War and the withdrawal of the black members occasioned by that tragic
conflict, Harrison Church continued to thrive. The first parsonage was built
in 1879.8 On June 30, 1902, the congregation appointed a building
committee to oversee the construction of a new house of worship. Work began
in the summer of 1902, and the edifice was dedicated in August 1903. It cost
$3350.9 This imposing frame building continues to serve the
congregation. The main block of the church retains its essential physical
integrity. In late 1921, the basement was excavated for Sunday School
classrooms.10 An educational wing was added to the rear of the
church in 1941.11 A choir loft was installed in 1949 but was
removed in 1954 by action of the congregation.12 The property
contains three other buildings the parsonage (1950), the Fellowship Building
(1954) and the Education Building (1972).13 The Church cemetery
is also located on the site. The earliest stones date from 1848.14
1 Orion N. Hutchinson, Jr., "A History Of Harrison Methodist
Church 17 85-1955," p. 9 (an unpublished manuscript in the Carolina Room of
the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Public Library). Hereafter cited as Hutchinson. If
Harrison Church was established in 1785, it is the oldest Methodist
congregation which survives in Mecklenburg County.
2 Ibid., p. 10.
3 Ibid., p. 13.
4 Ibid., p. 14.
5 Ibid., pp. 48-49.
6 Ibid., p. 34.
7 Ibid., p. 35.
8 Ibid., p. 52.
9 Ibid., pp. 63-64.
10 "A Brief History Of Harrison Church" in Harrison United
Methodist Church, a catalogue of Harrison Methodist Church. Hereafter cited
as Brief History.
11 Hutchinson, p. 68.
12 Ibid., p. 69.
13 Ibid., p. 70 & 75. Brief History.
14 Brief History.
7. A brief architectural description of the property: This report
contains an architectural description of the property prepared by Laura A.
W. Phillips, architectural historian.
8. Documentation of why and in what ways the property meets the
criteria set forth in N.C.G.S. 160A-399.4:
a. Special significance in terms of its history. architecture,
and/or cultural importance: The Commission judges that the property
known as the Harrison Methodist Church does possess special historic
significance in terms of Charlotte-Mecklenburg. The Commission bases its
judgment on the following considerations: 1) Harrison Methodist Church is
probably the oldest Methodist congregation in Mecklenburg County; 2) the
church building possesses significance as the finest example of its
architectural genre in Methodist congregation in Mecklenburg County, 3)
the Church cemetery is an unspoiled survivor from the mid-1800's.
b. Integrity of design, workmanship. materials. feeling and/or
association: The Commission judges that the architectural description
included in this report demonstrates that the property known as the
Harrison Methodist Church meets this criterion. The Commission draws
special attention to the fact that the rural setting of the church is
9. Ad Valorem Tax Appraisal: The Commission is aware that
designation would allow the owner to apply annually for an automatic
deferral of 50% of the Ad Valorem taxes on all or any portion of the
property which becomes "historic property." The current Ad Valorem tax
appraisal of the 18.730 acres of land is $51,510. The current Ad Valorem.
tax appraisal of the church is $21,819. The property is exempted from the
payment of Ad Valorem taxes. The building contains 3511 square feet of floor
space. The land is zoned R15.
"A Brief History Of Harrison Church" in Harrison United Methodist
Church, a catalogue of Harrison Methodist Church.
Orion N. Hutchinson, Jr., "A History Of Harrison Methodist Church
1785-1955." (an unpublished manuscript in the Carolina Room of the
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Public Library).
Records of the Mecklenburg County Register of Deeds Office.
Records of the Mecklenburg County Tax Office.
Date of Preparation of this Report: May 7, 1980.
Prepared by: Dr. Dan L. Morrill, Director
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Properties Commission
3500 Shamrock Drive
Charlotte, N.C. 28215
Telephone: (704) 332-2726
The Harrison Methodist Church, located on the west side of U.S. 521 in
the rolling countryside south of Pineville, is the third church building of
a congregation that was established in 1785. Built in 1902, the present
frame building is a whimsical expression of late Victorian aesthetics in
church architecture. The plan of Harrison Church is relatively sophisticated
with its well-integrated juxtaposition of squares, rectangles and polygons.
One enters the church through a set of paneled double doors headed by a
lancet-arched stained glass
transom bearing the inscription "Harrison 1902." These doors give
entrance to a vestibule which constitutes the base of a three-stage entrance
From the vestibule one enters the sanctuary, a large square room set on
the diagonal and oriented toward the pulpit at the southwest corner. The
pulpit is enframed by a recessed rectangular area set off from the sanctuary
by an arched wall and fronted by a semi-elliptical, turned balustrade.
Curved pews set on the inclined plane of the sanctuary floor are divided
into two sections by a center aisle. A feature of particular interest in the
sanctuary is the large, central ceiling medallion which apparently opens to
the belfry above. This delightful sawnwork decorative piece features
concentric circles in sawtooth and scallop patterns. On the east side of the
sanctuary, a polygonal choir loft projects outward from the main body of the
church. Balancing this projection, while not duplicating it, is a
rectangular room north of the sanctuary which contributes more seating space
to the sanctuary or can presumably be closed off to form a separate meeting
room. Decorative interior features are uniform throughout the original part
of the church.
Ceilings are sheathed in narrow, beaded boards, while walls are plastered
and have a beaded-board
wainscot. Doors and windows alike are edged with a modified fluted
surround with bulls. eye corner blocks. Memorial windows are arranged in
pairs or trios and feature geometrically patterned stained glass in various
combinations of blue, rust, gold, pink, yellow and green. The exterior of
Harrison Methodist Church displays a visually stimulating arrangement of
shapes, patterns and textures. Variety in form is created by the
juxtaposition of the square sanctuary with its small rectangular pulpit
projection, the polygonal choir loft, the rectangular extension to the
sanctuary, the tall rectangular entrance tower, and the octagonal belfry.
These are further enhanced by the tripped,
gable and polygonal roofs, all of which flair outward in bell-cast
fashion at their bases. Not only is there variety in basic roof types, but
in scale as well, ranging from the large tripped roof of the main sanctuary
to the tiny
pyramidal roofs of the corner spires on the entrance tower.
A variety of surface patterns and textures decorates the exterior of
Harrison Methodist Church. The main body of the frame church is sheathed in
German (or drop) siding, interrupted only by the stained glass windows with
their bracketed and paneled friezes. The upper extremities of the building,
consisting of the second and third stages of the entrance tower and the
belfry above the sanctuary, erupt in decorative shingle work popular during
the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. On both tower and belfry,
square-cut shingles alternate with bands of
sawtooth shingles. The shingles, in turn, contrast in feeling with the
smooth-cut louvered vents, terminating both belfry and tower spires are
decorative metal finials. Completing the composition and echoing the
verticality of the tower and the belfry is the tall brick chimney with
corbelled cap located next to the choir loft In 1939 a two-story frame
educational wing was added to the right rear of the church. While it is
obvious that this was an addition, the simplicity of its design with German
siding, tripped roof, 6/6
sash windows, brick interior chimneys and brick foundation does not
clash with the main body of the church. Other buildings on the church
property include the 1950 brick veneer parsonage south of the church, the
1954 cinderblock fellowship building southwest of the church, and the
one-story brick veneer education building erected north of the church in
1972. Farther north is the church cemetery, with earliest marked stones
dating from 1848. Surrounding the entire complex are more than seventeen
acres of rolling fields and woodlands. A dramatic tree-lined drive leads
from the highway to the church.