View south, circa 1900 (via UNC)
View south, circa 1915 (via UNC)
1915 Sanborn Map excerpt (at left)
1925 Sanborn Map excerpt (at left)
The church was built in 1849; Alexander Jackson Davis was the architect, and Dabney Cosby and Harry were the builders. The property the church was built on was bought from the University for $200. $3,589 was raised to build the structure. Previously there had been a small wooden building on the property, dating back to 1829, where Presbyterians worshipped on Sunday nights and on Thursday nights during the University terms.
The new church was dedicated on September 23, 1849. Its first leaders were James Phillips, Rev. Elisha Mitchell, Charles Phillips, and David Swain. By 1851 it had 12 members of the congregation (!). Its membership included people enslaved by the church's members. Its first pastor was the Rev. John B. Shearer (later president of Davidson College), who was at the church from 1858 to 1862. By 1862 there were 40 members of the congregation (three were enslaved people). The church bell was given to the Confederate government to melt down for use as war material during the Civil War. After the Civil War the congregation dwindled down to only a few members. In 1892 there were 28 members.
The church was remodeled in 1919-1920, paid for mostly by North Carolinian James Sprunt as a memorial to his wife, Luola Murchison Sprunt. The architect was Hobart Upjohn. On November 28, 1920, the newly remodeled church was dedicated and was named the Sprunt Memorial Presbyterian Church.
A fire destroyed the church on February 20, 1958; it started in the heating system just prior to midnight. Some of the detached buildings, such as a two-story brick education wing (constructed 1919-1920) survived. Church services were held in the Fellowship Hall, built in 1959 and located to the rear/north of the church, until a new Colonial Revival-style brick church was built on the site in 1962.
April 20, 1918 (CHW)