Fountain City Presbyterian Church

In the early 1900's, there were Presbyterians who had moved to Fountain City, however there was no Presbyterian church in the area. An Elder in Second Presbyterian Church in downtown Knoxville recognized a need for a Fountain City neighborhood church. In June 1922, he and interested Fountain City residents started a Sunday School originally meeting in the First Baptist Church on West Fifth Avenue, which is now Holbrook Drive. There were 46 present at the first meeting. By December it had become evident there was enough interest and support to organize a Presbyterian Church in Fountain City. A petition for organization was prepared and presented to the Union Presbytery of PCUSA on December 22nd, 1922. There were 13 signers, each representing a family which constituted at least 30 prospective members. Some familiar names were Andrews, McCampbell, and Ogden. 


At this time, the church was meeting on the second floor of the Odd Fellows Hall which stood on the corner of Hotel and West Fifth (Holbrook) Avenue. In June 1923, the church purchased for $7,500 the triangular parcel of land where resides our present campus. The property included a house which was to be used as a manse and site for church or "for such other purpose that might be used in the judgment of the officers and members seem expedient for the best interests of the Church". The congregation wanted a building of its own and help had been promised by the Union Presbytery. However some members of the Presbytery felt Fountain City was too small a community in which to invest funds necessary to do this, and the promised help was delayed. Some of the extension leaders in PCUS heard of this and believed a church in Fountain City had great possibilities. This led the new congregation to vote to petition Union Presbytery for transfer to the Knoxville Presbytery of PCUS on June 18th, 1927 and on July 18th, the transfer was approved. There were certain stipulations, namely that the Knoxville Presbytery would maintain the work in this community, assist in providing a building without delay and repay some $2,500 previously advanced by Union Presbytery. On August 9th, 1927 all the afore listed conditions were accepted by the Knoxville Presbytery and the transfer was complete. Fountain Presbyterian Church had become Fountain City Presbyterian Church PCUS, commonly called the "Southern Church."

 

On January 22nd, 1928, the Rev. Fred S. McCorkle began his pastorate. In September of 1928, ground was broken for the construction of a church building. Although the project did not make significant progress until spring of 1929, "that open hole in the ground lay there on the hillside through a long cold winter as a silent but effective witness that Fountain City Presbyterians had made a beginning and seriously expected to erect a church building." Mr. O.B. Andrews, one of the original petitioners for a Presbyterian church in Fountain City and father of Thelma Andrews Caldwell, began work as the builder in early 1929. Formal opening of the new building was October 30th, 1929. Cost of the new church was $15000, and there were 125 members at that time. This building is now known as McCorkle Chapel.

 

On December 1st, 1946, Dr. John Witherspoon Dunlap became pastor. He and his family became the new occupants of the manse behind the Chapel. The years of Dr. Dunlap's ministry were years of growth for the Church. The church had outgrown the small chapel built in 1929 and the end of World War II brought the possibility of building a new facility. A building/planning committee was named in 1946 and the architectural firm of Barber and McMurry was chosen to design the new facility. The congregation voted to begin construction when 1/2 of construction cost was realized in cash and pledges. The planning committee was replaced with a Building Committee with Mr. John Brothers  serving as chairman. The W.A. Catlette Construction Company was contracted to build the new church for $104,000, exclusive of interior furnishings. All day ceremonies marked the laying of the cornerstone on May 21st, 1950. Formal opening of the new sanctuary was Sunday January 21st, 1951.

In November 1951, the manse burned. The Dunlap family lived in a rental home for three years. A lot was purchased on Peyton Place in April 1952 and a new manse was completed in November 1954 at a cost of $18,950.

On February 16th, 1956 Dr. Don R, Brandon became minister. The Fountain City community was rapidly growing and the need for the church to expand educational facilities became evident. A building committee was chosen in 1957 with Mr. Frank Ogden serving as chairman. Church bonds were sold to liquidate the remaining debt on the sanctuary and finance the new Education Building which was completed in in January 1959. The contractor was Decker and Merriman, Builders. The building is on the former site of the Manse and houses church offices, choir room, Sunday School classrooms and the former library.

Dr. Jack Davis became minister on October 1st, 1978. In 1992, the church, upon the recommendation of the Long Range Planning Committee, voted to begin a campaign called "Call to Grow". This was a challenge for the church to begin a journey in new directions in both church facility needs and service to the community at large. There was a real need for additional Sunday School classrooms and for day care facilities in the community. The steering committee under the leadership of Mr. Bill Bryan and Mr. Harry Ogden led a large group of workers in a successful effort to communicate this challenge to church membership. A commitment dinner was held, and $625,000 was pledged. Ground breaking was scheduled for the spring of 1993 with expected cost to be one million dollars. The architect chosen was McCarty, Holsaple and McCarty and the builder was Johnson and Galyon. The new wing was ready in September 1994, and a state licensed Child Development Center was opened the following school year. On December 21, 1997, Dr. Davis preached his final sermon as pastor of the church.


Rev. Max Reddick was called to Fountain City Presbyterian Church on July 23, 2000. Lyn Oakley became the Director of Christian Education in 2004. The Belize Ministry, Family Promise, and the Disaster Relief/Construction Ministry were all started during Max's tenure. He also served as a delegate at the 2016 PCUSA 222nd General Assembly in Portland, Oregon. Some of the missions the church has participated in are Healing Wings, Heifer Project, Second Harvest, Rivers of the World, Sunset Gap, One Great Hour of Sharing, Habitat for Humanity, and Volunteer Ministry Center. 


Over the years, 7 members from our church have entered the ministry. The Davis Center for Child Development now cares for and educates 70 children and employs 20 teachers. Our youth have fed the homeless on the 2nd Sunday of each month for more than 30 years. Since 1923 more than 5,115 people have been members of Fountain City Presbyterian Church. 


If you have any information to add to our church history, please contact the church office at: office@fountaincitypres.org.


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