Face lift

Historic church in La Grange
undergoing interior renovation

Church members have
volunteered their services

By Helen E. McKinney
Contributing Writer

LA GRANGE, Ky. (December 2008) – Since 1895, DeHaven Memorial Baptist Church has seen people come and go, and life begin and end. It has withstood storms of doubt. The historic church is getting a much-needed interior renovation to make it shine just as brightly as the day its doors opened for its first congregation.
“The building is very important to us,” said pastor Tommy Purvis. With more than a century of wear and tear, “it was in need of some upkeep.”

DeHaven Memorial Baptist Church

Photo by Helen E. McKinney

DeHaven Memorial Baptist Church
has been a hallmark of the
community since 1895.

New lighting, carpeting, painting and restrooms are just some of the maintenance projects that have been tackled. The suspended ceilings have had to be redone and landscaping updated. The stained glass windows have been rejuvenated in an effort to “totally refurbish them to bring back the original beauty,” Purvis said.
Various church members have volunteered their time and talents to make the building located at 300 W. Main St. more functional for worship and training. The membership has steadily grown and now numbers 184 members.
“There is a very worshipful atmosphere inside,” said Purvis. The building is a tool to be used for the churches mission of reaching out to the community at home and abroad through mission programs.
Over a three year period, $350,000 has been pledged in support of renovation costs. Total costs may exceed this amount, but it is worth it to the congregation to upkeep the building.
“It is very much a part of the history and architecture of downtown La Grange,” Purvis said. A special interior feature is the churches pipe organ that was built and installed by the Louisville organ building firm of Henry Pilcher’s Sons in 1908. Half of the initial cost of $1500 was paid by the Andrew Carnegie Foundation.
The organ was originally hand pumped, but an electric blower now provides the wind for the organ. The Steiner Organ Co. of Louisville renovated the pipe organ in 1970.
It was within the sacred walls of this church that Bob and Audrey Hehl were married 55 years ago. Bob Hehl, 86, said he has attended services at DeHaven since 1951. He is a retired Oldham County High School teacher and his wife is retired from her position as a La Grange Elementary school librarian. They still attend DeHaven and have witnessed a church full of history that is a significant part of the county.
Hehl was on a history committee that compiled information on the church for its 100-year anniversary. “We gathered all data we thought was pertinent,” he said. The church belongs to the Oldham-Trimble Baptist Association, which has 22 member churches.
The Victorian Gothic style church was dedicated on Sunday, Dec. 5, 1895. DeHaven, formerly known as La Grange Baptist Church, was constituted in 1802 as Lick Branch Baptist Church. For a time, the congregation met in a log church also used as a schoolhouse.
The church at the current location was built after Judge S.E. DeHaven’s widow donated funds to buy the land and build the church. Betty Russell DeHaven gave the church as a memorial to her late husband, which can be noted over the front doors of the building. The church’s name then changed to DeHaven Memorial Baptist Church.
When the congregation began to outgrow the building, some members voted in 1999 to move to a new location on Commerce Parkway and changed its name back to the original La Grange Baptist Church. A core group remained behind and chartered a new church in the old De Haven Memorial Baptist Church building in November 2004.
This group was comprised of 54 charter members who decided to drop the word “Memorial” from the churches title. The church is involved in a variety of projects. It is a mentoring church for Good News Homes, which provides temporary housing for families, partners with the Red Cross, has instituted local and international missions projects and has a heavy focus on youth and children’s ministry.
There are more than 50 churches in Oldham County of various different denominations, said Hehl.
“We hope we can help people in the community,” he said. Hehl described the church as the “basis for people coming together, learning about the Lord, and going out and serving the Lord.”

• For more information, contact the Rev. Tommy Purvis at (502) 222-1535 or visit: www.dehavenbaptistchurch.org.

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