29 January 2015

Christ Church's baptismal font

In 1882, St. Paul’s Church established a mission in the neighborhood west of Cameron Hill a little south of the west end of Sixth Street.  At that time, Sixth Street came over the hill where West Martin Luther King Boulevard (formerly West 9th Street) does now, while Ninth Street crossed over a couple of blocks south of that.  The neighborhood, later known as Tannery Flats, had been built for the employees at Roane Iron Works, founded and owned by former Union officers John T. Wilder, Hiram Chamberlain, and W.A. Rockwood.

St. John’s Chapel, was built with funds raised by Miss E. C. Buckler, who had organized a Sunday school of about eighty pupils, from her friends in the east.  St. John’s was a brick structure west of the hill in the neighborhood was later known as the Tannery Flats, at the corner of Ninth Street and Short Street.  Bishop Q. T. Quintard, a former chaplain in the Confederate army, consecrated the chapel on 19 February 1882.  Among its furnishings was a marble baptismal font given by Mrs. John Minturn.

In 1890, Roane Iron Works shut its doors, driven out of business by the rapid progress in technologies to produce low-cost steel in the North.  With its closing, much of the surrounding population drifted away, including current and potential members of St. John’s Chapel.  It soon closed, and when Christ Church organized eleven years later, it was gifted the font, which was originally placed in what used to be the baptistery at the liturgical north end of the narthex.

What few records exist from St. Paul’s in the 1868-1909 period indicate that from 1890 until 1909, the main church building was not used.

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