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Bethany Meeting House

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1852. 1980s, Henry J. Browne (Browne, Eichman, Dalgliesh, Gilpin and Paxton). Southeast corner of Main (WV 67) and Church sts. at the eastern end of Bethany

The Gothic spire of Old Main embodies the spirit of intellectual aspirations of Bethany College in the mid-nineteenth century. This slightly earlier brick structure proclaims a simpler ethos, serving as a quieter, calmer reminder of the original aims and ideals of the Disciples of Christ when they gathered to hear the unadorned word of the Lord.

Built on a rough foundation composed of fieldstone and cut sandstone, in part recovered from a predecessor building on the site, the meetinghouse is a long rectangular block with a two-bay facade and five-bay side walls. The shallow gable end of the facade has a stone lunette with “Bethany Church of Christ” and the dates 1831–1852 inscribed on it. The earlier date is that of the first meetinghouse; the latter date is the year the present building was completed.

Identical doorways, each capped with a rectangular transom, provide separate entrances for the sexes, and lead into a shallow vestibule. A second pair of doors, on the same axes, opens to the bare, plastered main room, where they flank the pulpit platform. Consequently, seats face both the pulpit and the entrances, an arrangement that allowed worshipers to pass judgment on the preacher and latecomers at the same time. Four potbellied cast iron stoves, two to a side, divide the outer rows of pews into three sections and provide literal warmth to augment spiritual glow. Along with many Bethany structures, the meetinghouse has been restored.

Writing Credits

S. Allen Chambers Jr.

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