Rock Hill Presbyterian, Totally Gone

Update: The rocks were first moved out to Warren County, but then they disappeared, relocated to a winery. Several years later, a small memorial made of stones from the church was constructed on the original site.

I drove over to Rock Hill Presbyterian last Thursday, expecting to see some jagged walls sticking out of the ground, slightly more dismantled than I had seen it the Saturday before. Instead, I saw nothing. The church was completely gone, and I gasped when it dawned on me what had happened. According to the Post-Dispatch, they took it down “carefully” in three hours, numbering stones as they went. I seriously doubt that. What a joke.

Fairfax House, bizarrely floating on steel stilts, had been moved to its corner of purgatory on the north end of the site, ridiculously close to the road and completely devoid of context. I feel bad for all of the people who have worked so hard restoring it to its past appearance.

Anyways, it’s been long established that the leadership of Rock Hill are a bunch of revenue addicts, willing to do anything–even sell their grandmother’s wedding ring, or historic church–for their next fix. I predict here now that at least one, possibly two, of the currently operating gas stations in Rock Hill will go out of business in the six months after the UGas opens. It will be interesting, and depressing, to see if the fiefdom even comes out of this with more tax revenue than before they sold their community’s soul.

But what’s truly pathetic is the decision of the Giddings-Lovejoy Presbytery to sell such an historic church to UGas, fully aware that it would mean its demise. Sure, it was the smart business decision, but certainly not the smart moral decision. While I’m sure the Presbytery had full legal title to the church, I would argue that they did not hold the spiritual title to it. It belongs to the slaves, immigrants and the generations of members who first built and then attended services for almost 170 years. Was their hard work and devotion so meaningless?

9 Comments Add yours

  1. Bill Fryman says:

    Chris,I managed to get a few photos of the Rock Hill Church shortly before demolition began. They can be found at:'ll be moving these to my SmugMug site, hopefully tonight, where they can be viewed more easily.Bill

  2. Bill Fryman says:

    Chris,I've also posted the photos to where they are viewable by anyone.Bill

  3. samizdat says:

    A criminal abuse of history. As egregiously bad as revisionists saying that the Holocaust didn't happen. Much like the carpetbaggers in the South during the Reconstruction, the Rock Hill officials responsible for this infamous act should be tarred and feathered and run out of town. And, as you note, it is really shocking that the Giddings-Lovejoy Presbytery, considering its namesake–Elijah Lovejoy, his abolitionist history, and martyrdom at the hands of slavers–chose this course of action over continued stewardship. It is really too bad the Abuse of History is not a crime in a modern, just, and sane society. Oh, wait…never mind. Oh, and a little note on stewardship from the Presbytery itself: For the church, stewardship is a biblical and theological term that describes faithful discipleship. Most often when used in the church, stewardship refers to finances, budgets, and annual pledge campaigns. The word actually encompasses a holistic understanding of creation as a gift from God. As part of Gods created order, we are stewards of the world within, among, and around us our bodies, minds, and spirits; our community, the church, and the people of the world; the air, soil, and water, and the creatures who dwell therein; our time, energy, imagination, and talents and our money, wealth, and possessions. Marie T. Cross: the Price of Faith.To those at the Presbytery: It is truly shameful what you have done to the memory of Elijah Lovejoy, and his noble efforts to abolish slavery in this country. Considering that it is almost certain that the church was built with slave labor, it would seem that an acknowledgement of that history would be of some value to our society. Removing this church from this site takes it out of the context of history. Shame on you.A little info about Mr. Lovejoy:

  4. Chris says:

    I had been thinking about the irony of the Presbytery being named after Elijah P. Lovejoy, but didn't know how to articulate it like you did. Thanks.I wonder what he would have thought of the situation.

  5. Chris M says:

    Anyone heard an update on this? I passed by the site twice on the day of demolition and it looked anything but "careful". It didn't appear that any attempt was being made to salvage the stone; just indiscriminate wrecking by a large excavator. The second time I passed I was so surprised to see the church completely gone, with no pallets of stone anywhere in sight, that I almost wondered if they just used the stone for backfill.

  6. Chris says:

    I agree that something is suspicious about the whole "salvage operation." So you saw them just knocking over the walls with a backhoe? I wonder if they just graded dirt over the stones in the hollow behind the church.

  7. Chris M says:

    That's kind of what I was thinking but I could be wrong. Maybe I just couldn't see from the street. It wasn't more than a few hours between when I went by the first time (church about half gone) and the second time (completely gone). Doesn't seem like that would have been enough time to load and haul away the stones in any kind of orderly way, unless they just scooped them up into a dump truck.

  8. Maggie says:

    I work across the street from this project."unless they just scooped them up into a dump truck."This is basically what they did. They seperated the metals from the stone while tearing down. The Friday before they they removed the door, stain glass etc. They found there was three oddly aligned rows of stones that made it impossible to recover in an orderly fashion.My understanding from a discussion with a construction worker is that they separated the stone and the winery will reconstruct a new structure and use the stone. The work was incredibly fast and quite frankly interesting to watch at the rate where they could separate the materials so easily. The next few weeks under the church brought a HUGE problem. With a huge machine they broke up "the rock hill" for the gas tanks. Took them over well over two weeks. I actually found this more sad than losing the church.

  9. Chris says:

    Maggie,Thanks for all of the information; honestly, I haven't been back by since the last time, and probably won't ever again.

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