The trustees of Rock Spring Methodist Campground will offer historic Tent No. 1 to the highest bidder in an auction at noon June 4.
The campground is home to a nearly 200-year-old camp meeting, held each year in August. There are nearly 250 "tents." Mostly wood constructions surrounding a central arbor, the "tents" are typically passed from generation to generation, acting as a tangible family tree for many Denver-area families.
Historically, the Rock Springs meeting took place at the end of the growing season, when planters could leave their land.
Originally celebrated at Rehobeth Methodist Church, the meeting moved to its new 45-acre location in 1830. The location provided a place to gather, worship and rest. The site's two springs and abundant rocks provided the name.
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According to current trustees chairman Van Barker, a man known as Esquire W. Freeman Kelly built the first tent at Rock Spring Campground in 1831. It is thought the tent passed from Kelly to his daughter Jenny Gordon, who transferred ownership to Freeman Howard, a nephew of Kelly. Howard sold the tent to his nephew Blair Abernathy in 1959.
Basically, one could say the tent stayed in the family until it was destroyed by fire April 17, 1981, Barker said.
Abernathy reconstructed a replacement from logs that closely resembles Esquire Kelly's tent.
The campground board of trustees bought the structure from Abernathy in 1997.
"The campground trustees do not have a need to be in the tent ownership business at this time, and by selling the tent, another individual or family will be given the opportunity to enjoy the 181-year-old tradition of Rock Spring Methodist Camp Meeting the first week in August of each year," Barker said.
No real estate will be involved in the auction. The campground owns the real estate; individuals have the right to construct structures known as tents on the property for use during the annual camp meeting.
"In recent years, tents have sold in the range of $35,000 to $45,000. But considering the historic nature of Tent No. 1, who knows where the bidding will close at?" said Barker.
Denver's Foster Auction Services will conduct the sale. Complete terms and conditions will be announced before the auction.
The campground is on Campground Road in Denver, just north of N.C. 16 North. For more information visit www.rockspringscampmeeting.com.