Retro Charlotte

The church that helped raise Billy Graham

“The graduating class of the Beginners' Department at Chalmers Memorial ARP Church in 1924. Horace Owens is third from the right. Another notable member of the class is Billy Graham, second from the left.”
“The graduating class of the Beginners' Department at Chalmers Memorial ARP Church in 1924. Horace Owens is third from the right. Another notable member of the class is Billy Graham, second from the left.” Horace Owens

Driving through the intersection of South and East boulevards, I never appreciated the handsome church on the corner because the trees are in the way. Dedicated in 1920, Chalmers Memorial Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church played a big part in many Charlotteans’ lives, as the example below illustrates. Grace Covenant now occupies the building. Observer reader Horace Owens shared his memories in 1999:

“I have attended church and Sunday school since my birth on June 17, 1918. As a baby, I was baptized at Chalmers Memorial ARP Church at the corner of South and East boulevards. My father was a member of that church when it was built in 1910. …

“Chalmers Church has been designated a National Historical Property. Another church operates there now. I am very glad this building has been preserved, because it is a lovely structure.

“I have many memories of my home church, and they are all good. I believe my nicest memory is when I graduated from the Beginner's Department.

“We were dressed in caps and gowns, and our picture was taken on the porch of the church. All of us were either 6 years old or approaching that age. Most of these children are still in my memory, but (the one who grew up to be the) Rev. Billy Graham is the most outstanding. I will never forget my early church training.”

Maria David is the Observer’s librarian.

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