Commonwealth / Branson / Asbury Temple United Methodist

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Looking southeast from Aniger Avenue and South Alston, 1926.
(From "Durham: Center of Industry and Education")

Likely my favorite church building in Durham, the Asbury Temple United Methodist church was built around 1925 on the southeast corner of Angier Avenue and Alston Avenue. Simple neoclassical wings extending at right angles toward Angier and Alston frame an entrance that the Architectural Inventory terms "baroque" - almost a byzantine appearing dome (which makes me think of a Turkish mosque) sitting above a curved entrance facade supported by large columns framing 3 doorways. Wow.

The congregation organized in the 1880s as the Commonwealth Methodist Episcopal Church, likely after the Commonwealth Cotton Manufacturing Company - the factory building was located ~2 blocks away. However, the Commonwealth Cotton Company was on the wane by the early 20th century, and the congregation changed their name to Branson Methodist Church in 1904. The church was named in honor of WH Branson who had been director of both the Durham Cotton Manufacturing Company (located further east at Driver St.) and the Pearl Cotton Mills (located at Trinity and Duke.)

The congregation of this church diminished considerably with the waning of East Durham as a thriving community later in the 20th century. It, at some point, became the Asbury Temple United Methodist Church. It currently has an active congregation engaged with the commuity around it.



Looking southeast from Angier Avenue and South Alston, 2007.


This is one of my favorite buildings in Durham; I'm glad to know a little more about it.

Such a great building -- it's only too bad that all those utility lines obstruct the view. I'm glad to hear that the congregation is doing well for the community.

There is an almost identical Methodist Church in Boone, North Carolina.


This is neither here nor there, but this is Asbury Temple United Methodist--there's an Asbury United Methodist right off Duke's East Campus, so people get confused.

I'm really just commenting to tell you that this is the coolest blog ever and that I'm a member of Asbury Temple and love it too. :)


Thanks for the correction - I've fixed it - and thanks for the compliment!


I was raised in the former Branson Memorial United Methodist Church. Our congregation disbanded in June of 1989 after many years of declining membership. I have many fond memories of being brought up in that church.

I attended this church with my friend Gene Crawford whose father was the Pastor. This was in the 1940's.
Sonnie Rochelle

turns out there are churches matching this one's architecture all over NC - one popped up during an architectural inventory of Winston-Salem recently too.

The design was a fairly standard stock plan sold to congregations all over. The interior seating design roughly follows the "Akron Plan," with the congregation seated in the round, fanning away from a small and shallow chancel.

First United Methodist Church, Lenoir, NC, and First United Methodist Church, Lincolton, NC utilize an identical facility.

The identical church building named in an earlier post as Boone United Methodist Church was actually destroyed by fire in the early 1980s when repair work was being done to the domed roof, and one of the tar pots used caught fire. The Boone congregation rebuilt a contemporary building loosely based on the same plan on the same site, completing it in 1983. However, the Boone congregation moved to its present location on New Market Boulevard in 2000, selling the existing building to Appalachian State University, which converted it to the Turchin Center for the Visual Arts, its present use.

My connection to this post is that I am a Methodist pastor. While I was in seminary at Duke, I interned at Asbury Temple in Durham. Then, when I finished seminary, I was appointed to Boone United Methodist. Imagine my shock when I walked in the door in my new church and saw what appeared to be a picture of the church I had just left hanging in the hall!

This brings back memories for me of my growing-up years in Edgemont, where Asbury Temple MC is located. Edgemont was and is the nameof the general area it's located. (GK knows my interest in and active attempts in preserving the name Edgemont as reference of this real place _thanx GK)
a memory: I grew up in another churcg in the neighborhood - Edgemont Free Will Baptist Church, w/ a meaningful Durham history of it's own (see Open Durham) - a couple blocks from Asbury. I/we used to listen for the bells and chimes from Asbury to signal the "noon-hour"... which could draw a few glances around the congregation from the preacher. Or ignore it.
Edgemont was an "intense" neighborhood, with a wide variety of residents and businesses/"businesses", located a mile or so down Angier Ave. west direction from "East Durham".
Charles Gibbs

On July 1, 2011, Asbury Temple United Methodist Church merged with Reconciliation United Methodist Church to form New Creation United Methodist Church. New Creation UMC originally worshiped at Healthy Start Academy in Durham, on 807 West Chapel Hill Street, while this church building was being renovated. New Creation UMC finally began worshiping in this building on South Alston Avenue on October 7, 2012. So now the title of this post can say COMMONWEALTH / BRANSON / ASBURY TEMPLE / NEW CREATION UNITED METHODIST!

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