Union School / Union Grove Church

36.175388, -78.905201

Cross Street
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Twelve farm families raised money to help finance construction of the Union School, built in 1913 on donated land at the junction of the Roxboro and South Lowell Roads. When the Durham County school board consolidated smaller schools ten years later, the building was taken out of service and the property sold to Charles Crabtree who donated it to the Methodist Conference. The former school building was subsequently enlarged and refitted as the Union Grove Church.

Today the frame, gable-front, school-turned-church is a small rectangular weatherboarded building set on brick piers with fieldstone infill and capped with a sheet metal roof. The original school building has been extended front and back to include modest space for a chancel on the west and a vestibule now with a replacement double-leaf entry door on the east. Notable on the east facade is a pair of large windows with stained glass borders, and a two-tiered steeple recently installed near the entry. On the interior an aisle divides two rows of pews that face an altar. Near the church, a tiny graveyard contains markers dating from the 1930s, and the Union Grove Community Club erected a one-story concrete block building for social functions in 1952.




This church was organized primarily by the Crabtree and Hall families in Northern Durham County. My grandmother, Annie Hall Jones was a long time member and contributer to the church. She is buried in its small cemetery. My parents, uncle and aunt, and both sisters were proudly married in this tiny building. A very interesting story here is that the grand daughter of John McMannen, "The Fiddling Preacher", played piano here for as long as I can remember. Her name was Jo Hall. McMannen, as so well documented here and in books about early Durham, started many Methodist churches in the surrounding counties. He was an entrepreneur who started a business and community down South Lowell Rd and later in downtown Durham on what was then McMannen street. Now South Mangum St.

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