Historic Church Demolished To Make Way For Student Housing

Posted at 10:49 PM, Jul 13, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-14 00:06:10-04

The historic church of Mt. Olive Missionary Baptist Church was torn down in order for a student apartment building to be built.

It's been 130 years since the corner of University and Main Street in Clarksville looked more like a clean plot of land. Since 1886 Mt. Olive Missionary Baptist Church has called that corner home. This week, however, the church was demolished.  

For folks like Jason Garnett, a former church member, it meant a piece of black history in Clarksville is gone forever. All that remains of the original structure is now a pile of bricks on the edge of the property.

"This was one of the last staples," Garnett said. 

Charles Wisdom became a church member in 1962.

"608 Main Street, things have changed so much," he said looking around the property. “There are a whole lot of memories here. You see, my father, he was born in 1907. His family were original members here,” explained Wisdom.    

"Both of my daughters were baptized, I baptized them here in this church," Pastor David Allen said. 

Allen has served as the church pastor for the last 15 years.

"Mixed emotions, there's progress of course. The fact that it's down means that we've sold it and we're moving on but there are a lot of memories here, a lot of memories. This church has been here a long time," he said. 

The property was sold to make way for new apartments and student housing for nearby Austin Peay University. It was a hard choice, but one Allen says had to be made.

"When we looked at redoing our building, the cost was just so astronomical, it was just cheaper to build another building than to try to restore the old church," Allen explained. 

In 2007, the church purchased 10 acres of land north of Clarksville. That's where they plan to build a new home.

"That's the building, we're the church. Although that building is down, Mt. Olive Missionary Baptist Church is still alive and well," Allen said.