On 29 June 1964 W. N. Loyd and J. E. Smith, Trustees for the 27th Avenue Church of Christ, transferred property at the corner of 27th and Torbett Street to William E. Davis, Jonas E. Nance, Mrs. Myrtle Seay and Mrs. Novella Horton, trustees of Hosea Temple Cumberland Presbyterian Church, for the sum of ten dollars. Thus closed the final chapter of sixty years of ministry of the New Shops Church of Christ. In February 2013, just before I left for Nashville for Abilene I snapped a couple pics of the Hosea Temple Cumberland Presbyterian Church, home in the long ago to New Shops Church:
On 2 June 1905 Alex Perry (an elder with David Lipscomb at South College Street Christian Church) with William Stackman purchased a corner lot in near-west Nashville from Mr and Mrs. M. B. Pilcher. By June 1905 a small band of members from Jo Johnston Avenue Christian Church had met for several months in a vacant store on Stewart Street, on Mrs. Jim Robertson’s front lawn on Clifton Pike and in the J. W. Thomas School.
The lot Perry and Stackman acquired was on the southwest corner of 27th Avenue (then known as Winston Avenue) and Torbett Street. On Thanksgiving Day 1905 several men spent the day working on a building. Dora Wyatt wrote, ‘as soon as there was enough flooring laid to hold a few seats, we moved in and started worshiping in the new building. It was a happy day! After the building was completed, a two weeks’ revival was held by T. B. Larimore.” Thus began the Winston Avenue Church of Christ. Located about a block north of Charlotte Avenue, this neighborhood is north of Centennial Park and two blocks east of present-day I-440/I-40 interchange. Using Charlotte Avenue as a point of reference, remember that West Nashville Christian Church (later renamed Charlotte Avenue Church of Christ) stood at the corner of 46th Avenue and Charlotte, some 20 blocks west. The sponsoring church, Jo Johnston, stood—the building still stands!– at 17th and Jo Johnston, about ten blocks east toward downtown. Here is the Jo Johnston building in 2010, not long vacated by Friendship Missionary Baptist Church:
The focal point of the neighborhood was the railroad repair shops for L&N Railroad built along Charlotte Avenue just north of Centenntial Park. These shops, the ‘new’ shops as opposed to former location near downtown, were a hub of activity. Among the most efficient anywhere, purportedly the most efficient south of the Ohio River, the Louisville and Nashville Railroad shops when opened were valued at $300,000. It appears then, that the constituents of the neighborhood churches, New Shops Church of Christ among them, were the working class whose skilled labor kept a Southern railroad machine humming.
Here are the Shops ca. 1940 from Tennessee State Library Archives online digital photograph and image database. The road cutting from 9 o’clock on your left up to the 12 o’clock position is Charlotte Avenue. To your right past 3 o’clock is Centennial Park. New Shops Church was located just out of sight of the photo in the 11 o’clock position.
The 1908 City Atlas knows of New Shops Church, but identifies it only as ‘Campbellite Ch.”:
I assume the school above (in pink…it was brick) on Torbett is the J. W. Thomas School to which Dora Wyatt refers in her 1939 historical sketch.
New Shops Church first appears in Nashville city directories in 1906. As you can see by browsing the 1908 Atlas, the neighborhood is emerging. There are many vacant lots, presumably having only recently subdivided. The yellow structures indicate wooden or frame buildings. The houses are modest, and they are frame. You will not see many large brick homes in this section of town.
It appears that Jo Johnston Church had her eye on an emerging neighborhood to her west, and got in early with a church plant. Meeting at the southwest corner of Winston and Torbit (notice the spelling variant, Torbit/Torbett) Avenues, they had “no pastor” and met for worship at 11 am. Twenty years later, the city directory lists Sunday services at 11 am and 7:30 pm; in 1926 they do not appear to have a regular minister, which is not surprising as most Churches of Christ even in the city did not regular salaried ministers. Wyatt says that “several years later this [frame] building [pictured above on the atlas] was torn down and the present building erected.” The second building took the place of the first on the same lot. By December 1939 New Shops Church of Christ was a congregation of 250 members. Wyatt mentions several times the work of their Bible school. Evidently this was a significant focus in the earliest years at Winston Avenue. In December 1939 Johnny Goins was in charge of this ministry.
By 1943 Jo Johnston Church, citing a ‘changing neighborhood’ (that is, changing from mostly white to mostly black), sought to liquidate the church property and disband. At that time Friendship Missionary Baptist Church acquired the old Jo Johnston property and met there until just a few years ago. I would like to make contact with someone at Friendship Church to see whether they have any older photos of the building.
My hunch is that just as the neighborhood at 17th and Jo Johnston ‘changed’ so did the area north of New Shops when the shops closed. The Hosea Community Church now occupies the former 27th Avenue Church of Christ building.
Now, who might have any old paper from New Shops Church of Christ? It was known also as Winston Avenue Christian Church or Winston Avenue Church of Christ and later as 27th Avenue Church of Christ. Who might have anything from Jo Johnston Church of Christ; known also as Jo Johnston Avenue Christian Church and earlier as Line Street Christian Church? Who might have an old photograph of either of these houses of worship? Who might have a directory of any of these congregations? When these congregations disbanded, where did the remaining members go?
Their closure is within living memory; the time to preserve what remains, if it can be located, is now.
History of Nashville, Tenn. H. W. Crew, 1890, p. 332. available online here.
Dora Wyatt, “New Shops Church” Gospel Advocate December 7, 1939.
Metro Nashville Property Assessors Office, online records accessed 8 August 2010.
Atlas of the City of Nashville, 1908. accessed 3 February 2013.