The Wigwam – Part 2

In June 8th’s post The Wigwam, I shared some new information on our property.  You may want to read that post to bring you up-to-date.  I’m was thrilled later in the day when I heard from my friend Tim Holtz that Barton Heights Baptist Church was now known as Northminster Baptist Church.  I had discerned that during some of my online research, but it was confirmed by Tim!  Later, Tim brought me a copy of a book, A People Called Northminster which is the history of Barton Heights and Northminster Churches from 1891-1978, written by Frederick Jarrad Anderson in 1979.

Thanks for the encouraging emails, calls, and overall response!  I really appreciate it!  Here are responses to some of the questions that have been raised…

  • Where are Barton Heights Methodist and Baptist churches now?
    • As previously stated, the Baptist Church is now Northminster Baptist Church.
    • I don’t know where Barton Heights Methodist Church is today…but would LOVE to know!!!!
  • What did the Wigwam look like?
    • A picture was included in both books I received.

  • How long was The Wigwam around?
    • Based on what I have determined, the Wigwam was still standing as of 1978 when A People Called Northminster was written.  Just today I was working at my desk and looked out the window where my birdfeeders are; and a car stopped on the side of the road. A gentleman got out and was looking down in the gutter/curb.  I thot that maybe there was maybe a hurt dog or cat.  As I raised the window to ask if everything was OK, he shared with me that he grew up at 2101 Barton Ave and he was giving his mom a tour of their old neighborhood.
    • This family had lived IN the Wigwam!!!!  Yes…IN the Wigwam.  I had to quickly get out of my house and run outside to meet them.  The Scott Family had much to share with my about what it was like back in the day….before the Wigwam burned down.  Tom Scott showed me where his sister, Carol had carved her name in the curb on 10.23.1962.  Yes…it was still there!
    • They added the 2nd floor to the Wigwam and the round area was their living room. At some point after the Scott’s moved, the Wigwam was destroyed in a fire.  The Scotts and I exchanged phone numbers and emails…and just can’t wait to hear more! God sooo blessed me with this visit today.
  • What did Barton Heights look like back then?
    • Here’s a picture of the viaduct for the street car, where the 1st Street Bridge is now.  Downtown is to the left, SBH to the right.

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The Wigwam

My friend, Cindy Mims recently discovered a booklet called Rediscover the Barton Heights Community provided by Richmond Neighborhood Housing Services…now known as NeighborWorks Resource Group.  It was produced with funds from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development through the City of Richmond’s Community Development and Block Grant Program.  It was designed and information compiled by NorthLight Publishing (2/95).

So, I learned something new….and I am REALLY excited about it!!!

First, the booklet claims on page 5 that “An array of promotional advertising described the community as ‘a children’s paradise, a model village and an oasis in the desert of hard times for the working man.’” That really brings me hope! And this work…our ministry…once again reminds me of Ezra and Nehemiah rebuilding Jerusalem.

Second, on pages 9-10 it talks about the churches back in the day.  It describes how a group of 16 residents were meeting in a one resident’s living room to study the Word.  Then it goes on to say,

“After several meetings in private homes the Sunday school met at the Wigwam, a community building located at the northeast corner of Barton Avenue and Roberts Street.  The Wigwam, noted as an odd-shaped wooden structure, was the scene of many community activities including dances….While meeting at the Wigwam, the church slowly grew from the original sixteen to twenty-seven members: nine women and eighteen men. Soon the church decided to take a venture in faith and build a permanent church home.”

My friends and readers…it is awesome to report…that Miss Marti’s House stands at that very corner….the NE corner of Barton and Roberts.

The Corner of the Wigwam and Miss Marti's House

Lastly, this led me to do a little more research.  A quick internet search brought me to more historic information on Barton Heights on a website:  More on the Wigwam from that site:

“The first building to serve the neighborhood’s religious congregations was the Wigwam (1891) at the corner of Barton and Roberts (No. 2017). Originally a community center, its early date reflected the tight community being established…It was the Methodists who first used the Wigwam before they built their new sanctuary in 1893 on North Avenue.…The Barton Heights Baptist Church was also first organized in the Wigwam.”

I have always thought of my home, my space, my property…Miss Marti’s House…as holy ground…a house of peace…God’s house.  It is so cool to pick up on the past….the history of the NE corner of Barton and Roberts…and continue God’s work over a century later….as a community center AND as a place where people meet to study the Word…the beginning of not just 1 church, but 2….maybe there will be 3?!?!?  But, I am not thinking about building A church…but about building THE church!

The current history of many corners throughout SBH includes prostitution, drug deals, loitering, etc.  But I have hope that from this corner…the NE corner of Barton and Roberts…stands a Light…a Light in the darkness.

What else might the Lord want to use this corner for?  Could it be to bring hope, healing and health to a community that strives to again be known for ‘a children’s paradise, a model village and an oasis in the desert…”?

Isaiah 58:12

12 Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins
and will raise up the age-old foundations;
you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls,
Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.

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