BY Win Dolan

Highlights of Our Story  First Baptist Church: 1867-2007
A year long series originally printed in the Tidings (article #11)

How well do you know your church building?  I took a walk one day, looking for historical connections, and was surprised at how much I didn/t know or had forgotten.  So let’s walk around together and deep our eyes open.  We’ll begin at the front entrance on First Street.

Take the first couple of steps up from the sidewalk and look up at the wall in front of you.  Did you ever notice the bronze tablet that says, ‘Hunsaker Memorial Auditorium’?  Who was Hunsaker?  We’ll see his picture later.  And we’d never call it an auditorium today—it’s a sanctuary.  Advancing to the main floor level, we’ll turn right into the ‘Yoke Room’, and you can see right away why it’s called that.  This was the crowded coffee-hour location before we had the Gathering Room.  The chapel is here, once provided with a small organ.  The Toy Box Day Care used the adjoining rooms for many years.

From here we’ll go down the hall, past the Habitat for Humanity office and some children’s classrooms, to the Gathering Room.  History here is only a few years old, but did you ever notice the hanging light globes?  They formerly served in the sanctuary, until about 1963 when they were replaced by the present electric lights.  These latter have proved especially hard to keep all working at once, requiring a very tall ladder moved around among the pews.

Down the stairs (or the elevator, and how some of the dearly departed would have appreciated that!), we’ll turn toward the Miller Social Hall, so named for the four Miller brothers, whose families were prominent in the church at one period but I think have no representatives among us today.  This room is widely used, as you know, for many church events from business meetings to pot lucks.  It was the site of Pioneer Pantry for several years.  It is also the home of Boy Scout Troop 260, continuously active under church sponsorship since its chartering in 1955, meeting here every Monday night.  Look in the northwest corner for a board honoring the 72 Scouts who have achieved the rank of Eagle Scout, a remarkably high number for any troop.  A door nearby leads to a storeroom for camping and other equipment.

Behind the wall here is a vast, low-ceilined basement below the sanctuary.  Over the years this has served a variety of purposes from overflow classroom to youth center to just plain junkyard.  Now it is pretty much off-limits to traffic, but contains some very orderly storage, a shop room and an office for the building superintendent.  The heating and air-conditioning equipment are adjacent, replacing a pre-1963 wood-burining monster that was fed by hand with 4-foot logs.  These were stored in an adjoining wood-room, a space later used for choir practice over several years.

— Here our writing space runs out, but we’ll continue our exploration next time.