Lewisburg church put on list of endangered properties

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

By Karen Hall


The Tennessee Preservation Trust recently announced its "2013 Ten in Tennessee Endangered Properties List." This year's list includes a church in Lewisburg, at the corner of Water Street and 3rd Avenue North. The TPT calls it Water Street Abbey, but some older residents may remember it as the Water Street Church of Christ.

In naming the Lewisburg structure to the list, TPT explains, "Built 1910, the church was constructed by the United States Presbyterian Church in the Jacobean Gothic/British Renaissance style similar to the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. The sanctuary is acoustically well designed with a dome ceiling and sloped theatre-style pews."

The Presbyterians only kept the church for 29 years. In 1939, they sold the property to the Water Street Church of Christ.

On June 12, 1967, the trustees of the Water Street Church of Christ resolved to sell the building, and later that month it passed into private hands. The building had three local owners over the next 40 years, until December 2007, when it was sold to Thomas and Patty Lane of Nashville.

According to the TPT, the Lanes have applied for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places and are seeking support in restoring the church.

"This year's list reflects not only Tennessee's rich and diverse history, but also the scope of Tennesseans' concerns," said David Currey, Board President of the Tennessee Preservation Trust. "The people of the state have called out for protection for these special historic places ... we need to focus on preservation and creative reuse to keep our state's treasures from fading away."

According to the group's website, "The Tennessee Preservation Trust's Ten in Tennessee Endangered Properties List Program is TPT's strongest advocacy tool for the state's most endangered historic sites. Each year, TPT seeks nominations for the 'Ten in Tenn' from the public from each of Tennessee's nine Development Districts.

"What began in 2001 has grown to be a successful program for garnering awareness for Tennessee's threatened historic properties. Many of the sites listed have received grants from the Tennessee Historical Commission and the Tennessee Department of Transportation, protecting these resources for generations to come. Listing on the Ten in Tennessee Endangered List raises awareness of the property's historic value, gives credibility to restoring the building, and draws the much needed attention of the public.

"While TPT has been very successful working with our partners across the state to protect these sites, we have not been able to save them all. Out of the 90 sites that have been listed, though, we are proud to say we have lost less than 10 properties."

Visit www.tennesseepreservationtrust.org for more information.