Editor’s Note: The following is the first in a series of stories highlighting homes and other structures that will be featured during the Highland County Historical Society’s annual Tour of Homes and Historic Buildings on Sunday, June 11 from noon to 5 p.m. Tickets are $15 for adults and $5 for children 12 and under. This story features the New Hope Baptist Church, located at 128 E. Beech St., Hillsboro.
Sometime before 1851, a Sunday school was organized by Sam Highwarden, north of town on the New Vienna Pike, on what is now the Duckwall farm. The Sunday school grew and created the need for a church.
About 1854, the New Hope Baptist Church was organized by Sam Highwarden, Charles Putty, John L. Young, James Harraway and James Campbell. About 1857, the old building where the Sunday School was held was tore down and the logs moved to the spot where the late William Woods made his home on North West Street in Hillsboro. A building was erected on that site.
The first pastor was Elder Robert Allen. Many members of the old Clear Creek Baptist Church became members of New Hope.
Later, a brick building near the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad was secured and remodeled at a cost of $1,050. In 1878, the Rev. C. M. Clark of Xenia took charge of the church with 32 members. The church belonged to the Eastern Division of the Union called The Eastern Union Anti-Slavery Baptist Association.
A lot was purchased on Beech Street sometime after 1901. Then, on Sunday morning, Feb. 7, 1904, a storm blew the old church down. Before a new church could be built, services were held in the Carroll Hall on West Main Street and later in the courtroom of the Highland County Court House. The current church was built and the cornerstone reads “1854-1908,” thus indicating the date of construction. By this date, the membership had grown to 150.
In 1911, the church acquired new lights, pews were donated, and a gasoline stove was purchased for $1. After 1914, new pews were purchased, as well as a church bell and baptismal pool. Steam heat and new lights were added and the floor of the church was elevated. A piano was purchased a bit later.
Many additions to the church were made between 1930 and 1937, but on Dec. 30, 1954 a fire did more than $4,000 in damage. Repairs were made and over the years, air-conditioning, lighting and robes were purchased. During the late ’80s the sound system was upgraded and a van was purchased. Donations have included Bibles, hymnals, a computer, and a marquee. Remodeling upgrades continue. A time capsule was buried at the 150th anniversary to be opened on the 175th.
Many excellent pastors over the years have led ministries of great importance and benefit to members and the community at large. The pastor since 2013 is the Rev. Tyrone A. Lawes, a native of Columbus.
He is married to Sister Cynthia A. Lawes and they are the parents of a daughter, Monica, and have shared their love with many foster children.
The beautiful New Hope Baptist Church is constructed of precisely cut and laid stone and includes a three-story (at least) tower. Peaked windows surround the church with a very large window designating the sanctuary and the main entrance located at the ground level of the tower.
“The Highland County Historical Society is happy to be collaborating with the Brush & Palette Guild in an effort to raise awareness of its talents and to help them promote their 60th show and sale at Southern State Community College in Hillsboro on Saturday and Sunday, June 24-25,” a news release from the historical society said. “We are featuring artwork of the homes or buildings on the tour at each of the sites. By attending the tour, you will have an opportunity to see some work created by these talented artists and talk with them about their organization and upcoming event.”
Deanna Flinn and Kathy Edmond will be the artists featured at the New Hope Baptist Church.
Information for this article was provided by Teresa Williams.