Fosterville Church of Christ was built in 1886 and survived a pair of tornadoes in 1890 and 1923.
A rich rural church history will be on display at Fosterville Church of Christ’s fish fry and guided tours Saturday, July 20, in southern Rutherford County.
The church was built in 1886 and survived a pair of tornadoes in 1890 and 1923, which devastated the surrounding railroad community and killed one of its prominent founding elders.
Intriguing aspects of its history have been uncovered during a six-month restoration of the building by local historic preservationist Jonathon Fagan, but organizers of the event are keeping a lid on specifics until the big day.
“We found some of the most interesting artifacts and inscriptions in the building’s iconic steeple, and tracked down their source in the Fosterville Cemetery,” Fagan said. “It’s quite rare for a Church of Christ of that era to have had a wooden structure with so many unique design elements, and the congregation has done a fine job of preserving it for more than 135 years.
“All are invited to see what we found, and Bubba will feed them his famous fried fish,” he added.
The fish Fagan mentioned will be fried on site by Bubba Woodfin, the owner of Woodfin Funeral Chapel, who is a local amateur historian. The fish will be served up after visitors will enjoy tours of the building and a historic presentation that concludes at noon.
Jeff Adcock, minister of the Fosterville Church of Christ and a descendant of one of its original elders, will be on hand for guided tours.
“We look forward to sharing a portion of our history and highlights of some spiritual ancestors and forebears,” Adcock said. “The church and community have their share of triumph and tragedy including a devastating cyclone which took away the boyhood home of E. A. Elam, a leading teacher and elder among the Churches of Christ in Middle Tennessee.”
“We will also sing the a cappella songs of the era 1860-1890 to provide the authentic musical setting for visitors,” Adcock added.
The event will be hosted jointly by the Rutherford County Historical Society and the Association for the Preservation of Tennessee Antiquities.
Denise Carlton, president of the association, will preside over a final re-dedication ceremony for the structure, replacing the aging historical marker originally erected on the property in 1986.
“It will be a fitting end to a beautiful restoration of one of Rutherford County’s most historic structures,” Carlton said. “And it will provide a perfect backdrop for our annual membership drive.”
The church is located at 11649 Fosterville-Bell Buckle Road, and visitors can enjoy guided tours from 11 a.m. until noon, with lunch provided soon thereafter.
For those wishing to avoid the July heat, an air-conditioned fellowship hall will be available for dining, or visitors may choose to use the outdoor pavilion.
“The church’s construction and geographic positioning are a clue in unfolding some of the mysteries of the church’s original construction,” Fagan said. “We hope everyone will enjoy learning of its surprising history.”