The Newnan Times-Herald


Central Baptist featured on Christmas home tour

  • By The Newnan Times-Herald
  • |
  • Dec. 06, 2018 - 10:57 PM

 Central Baptist featured on Christmas home tour

Winston Skinner / The Newnan Times-Herald

Stained glass windows from France bring majestic beauty into the sanctuary at Central Baptist Church.

Not all of the sites on the Christmas Tour of Home are homes.

Central Baptist Church, which has been a downtown landmark since its construction in 1898, will be on the tour along with seven homes in the College-Temple neighborhood. 

The 2018 Christmas Tour of Homes will be hosted by Newnan Presbyterian Preschool and Kindergarten. It will be held Friday from 4-9 p.m.

Central’s sanctuary at 14 West Broad St. was dedicated in July 1898, a year after the congregation formed – separating itself from First Baptist Church. James H. Hall, the founding pastor at Central, had earlier been the pastor at First Baptist.

The church was constructed with 35 carloads of marble, a gift from the Tate Marble Company in north Georgia. The marble was given by Stephen Tate, whose sister Mattie Tate, had married E.M. Cole and subsequently lived in Newnan.

With its piercing spires and slate roof, it towered amid stately fig trees.  In its cornerstone was deposited a Bible, declaration of reasons for withdrawing from the First Church, Articles of Faith, membership roll, list of committee members, Sunday School teachers and officers, coins, Confederate bills and roster of soldiers.

The Gothic style chosen was popular at the turn of the 20th century and increasingly replaced classical forms for churches. The interior walls are plaster with an arched ceiling of dark timber. The hand-cut stained glass windows were imported from France. A large chandelier hung in the center.

Originally, the pulpit was located in the middle of the platform area with a covered baptistry – presently the organ pit – on one side and seating for choir on the other. There were three or four pews situated in the center front, flanked by additional rows separated by an aisle. The communion table, made in Tennessee, was designed and presented by Bryan M. Blackburn, a longtime church leader, in 1916. The present silver communion set was a gift of M. F. Cole in 1971, and the silver cross was a gift from the Norma Haynes family.

Music was first provided by a pump organ powered by a man who sat outside pumping a wooden handle. Sometimes he would fall asleep and the organ would go “kaflooey.”

In the 1920s, the sanctuary was expanded for Sunday school space by the addition of an annex or east wing, and furnished with cane-bottomed chairs. Wooden doors sounded like thunder as they were pulled down for Sunday School and rolled back up for service.  The doors were later replaced with folding curtains.  Along with the addition of offices and Sunday school rooms, improvements were made in heating and lighting, a new pipe organ was purchased, a central baptismal pool built and the rose window moved from the front to its present location. 

Renovation in the 1930s created a central aisle and divided chancel, where there was both a pulpit and a lectern, and the choir members faced each other. Also, at this time came carpeting and the beautiful woodwork handcrafted by artisans of the local R. D. Cole Company.

Cooled by air circulating over 300 blocks – 2,000 pounds – of ice in the boiler room, Central was the first church in town with an air-conditioned sanctuary. 

In 1946, a set of organ chimes was given by Jimmy Beers, in memory of his brother, Robert, who was killed in World War II. During renovation in the 1950s, the annex became part of the sanctuary, the educational building was added with recreational space in the basement, a bulletin board was erected in the front yard, modern air-conditioning was installed and the organ underwent major repair, including the purchase of a new console.

In the 1970s, along with the addition of a nursery, the choir loft was remodeled, additional pipes added to the organ, a sound system installed and new carpet laid.

The 1990s brought again major renovations to the church organ. The harpsichord, donated by a generous member in 1993, continues to add to worship. With the celebration of the church’s centennial anniversary in 1997, the Glover building was renovated for the youth program, the brick walkway with members’ names inscribed was laid, the church history was published, and the carillon, heard daily by all around the square, was added as a gift from Harold Barron.

The current lectern was a gift from the Homer Drake family in 1992.

Throughout the years, the plaster walls, the stained glass windows, and the organ have all required continual maintenance.

The 2018 Christmas Tour of Homes is hosted by Newnan Presbyterian Preschool and Kindergarten.

The tour will be on Dec. 7 from 4-9 p.m. in the College-Temple Historic Neighborhood. Tickets can be ordered until Dec. 6 at midnight from the website  –

Tickets can also be purchased at Gillyweed and the Coweta County Convention and Visitors Bureau Visitor Center at the historic Coweta County Courthouse through Thursday.

During the tour,  Newnan Presbyterian Church will host a Parent's Night Out from 5-9 p.m. in the NPC preschool building. Children, ages 3-12, will enjoy an evening of age-appropriate, Christian-based fun, games, music and crafts. Cost is $15 a child or $25 a family.  A light dinner and snacks will be provided.

For more information, visit or call the church office at 770-253-4405.