George Jones Memorial Baptist Church

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George Jones Memorial Baptist Church
Oak-ridge-george-jones-tn1.jpg
Front of the church
George Jones Memorial Baptist Church is located in Tennessee
George Jones Memorial Baptist Church
Location Blair Rd., Oak Ridge, Tennessee
Coordinates 35°56′21″N 84°22′22″W / 35.93917°N 84.37278°W / 35.93917; -84.37278Coordinates: 35°56′21″N 84°22′22″W / 35.93917°N 84.37278°W / 35.93917; -84.37278
Built 1901
Governing body Department of Energy
MPS Oak Ridge MPS
NRHP Reference # 92000408[1]
Added to NRHP May 6, 1992

The George Jones Memorial Baptist Church, also known as the "Wheat Church," is a historic church building at the former site of the community of Wheat in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, United States.[2][3] It is the only structure remaining from Wheat, a rural Roane County community that was dissolved in 1942 when the United States government assumed ownership of the land for the Manhattan Project.

Founded in 1854 as a United Baptist congregation by 26 members of the Sulphur Springs Church of Christ,[4] it was established in Wheat in the northern part of Roane County. Originally named the "Mount Zion Baptist Church," it changed its name to "George Jones Memorial Baptist Church" in 1901, after a local minister who had donated most of the land for the community.[5] In the same year, the congregation built a new building, which remains today.[6]

The church is considered a good example of a rural vernacular church building. It is a three-bay, rectangular plan brick building with wood cladding, a square bell tower, and a standing-seam metal roof. There are two rooms in its interior, an anteroom and the sanctuary, separated from one another by a waist-high partition. A 1½ acre cemetery is located west of the church.[6]

The George Jones church served not only as a religious facility, but also as a community gathering place for Wheat residents.[6] When Wheat was vacated by the federal government in 1942 as part of the Manhattan Project, the George Jones Memorial Baptist Church was abandoned with the rest of the community.[5] All other Wheat buildings have been demolished.[6] As the only pre-1942 building remaining in what was once Wheat,[6] the church is the location of annual reunions of former residents.[7]

The church is east of the K-25 site and a short distance north of State Route 58, from which it is visible.[8] It is located on the old Wheat Road, a gravel road (accessible from Blair Road) that follows the historical roadbed of a one-time local thoroughfare.[6] The church building and the road are owned and maintained by the U.S. Department of Energy.[6][9] Motorized travel on the road is limited to government vehicles,[8] but the road is open to pedestrians and bicycles as a public greenway trail.[9]

George Jones Memorial Baptist Church was one of six Oak Ridge properties listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1992.[6] This listing reflects its significance as the only existing physical remnant of the Wheat community, a physical representation of rural life in the area in the 19th century and the early decades of the 20th century, and an example of vernacular church architecture.[6]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2009-03-13. 
  2. ^ Topographical map, USGS. Accessed 2009-06-09.
  3. ^ Map of Oak Ridge, City of Oak Ridge, 2008. Accessed 2009-06-10.
  4. ^ Roberts, Snyder E. Origin of First Baptist Church of Oliver Springs 1846–1980 via Some Churches and Cemeteries of Roane County Tennessee. Accessed 2009-06-07.
  5. ^ a b Smith, D. Ray and Steve Goodpasture. "Wheat — Education, sacrifice and proud memories." The Oak Ridger. 26 September 2006.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Listing of Multiple Properties at Oak Ridge in the National Register of Historic Places". U.S. Department of Energy. May 20, 1992. Archived from the original on August 3, 2010. 
  7. ^ "Wheat residents will meet for 72nd reunion." The Oak Ridger. 1 October 2004. Accessed 10 June 2009.
  8. ^ a b Photographs at Wheat Community, mensetmanus. Accessed 2009-06-07.
  9. ^ a b Oak Ridge sprouted where Wheat once thrived, Knoxville News Sentinel, 2007-06-10. Accessed 2009-06-10.