Today in Rip Payne

16 Feb
by Emma Earnst

Today, I’ve decided to set fire to the rain (obligatory link).*

You see, in February 1977, the First Baptist Church of Charlottesville went aflame.   This First Baptist (not to confused with this one, or this one) was founded in 1831 by Reverend Reuben Lindsay Coleman.  In the 1850s, FBC’s Reverend John Broadus founded the Albemarle Female Institute, where one of Charlottesville’s most well-known nineteenth-century women, Lottie Moon, was educated and baptized.  For those of you who haven’t been on a Spirit Walk before, Lottie Moon went on to become a missionary to China, where she served for 40 years.  Later, in 1884, the Church founded the state’s first Baptist Young Peoples Union as a part of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Almost a century later, though, disaster struck.  The church building, at the time 142 years old, and located at the corner of 2nd Street NE and E. Jefferson, caught fire and burnt quite thoroughly.  Likely working for a newspaper, Rip went out to capture the night scene.  Some of the photos here include the building actually on fire, and the later images show the extent of destruction caused.  Needless to say, the church was beyond repair.   Quite remarkably, the congregation was able to enjoy services in their new Park Street church just a year later.

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*Note: today’s “Today” in Rip Payne is actually “On-An-Unknown-Date-This-Month in Rip Payne.” 

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