Maddry-Parker Wedding Photographsby Reginald Carter, Church Historian
Dr. Charles E. Maddry was pastor of First Baptist Church Hillsborough from 1951 to 1957. Under his leadership the church adopted a system of rotating deacons, began electing and ordaining women as deaconesses and renovated the sanctuary and built an education building – the first addition to the church building since its construction in 1860. Also, Dr. Maddry has the distinction of serving as the church’s pastor twice. The first time was from 1901 to 1904 while he was enrolled at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill.
As the church’s historian, I recently had an opportunity to speak with Robert Severance, one of Dr. Maddry’s grandchildren. I wanted to learn more about the family. During one of our conversations, Robert mentioned that he had photographs of his grandparents’ wedding and said he would be glad to donate them to the church’s archives. Several days later, two photographs arrived in the mail. I knew the wedding had taken place in 1909 and the bride was Emma Parker from Hillsborough, but was not aware that the marriage had taken place at First Baptist Church.
To my knowledge the photograph shown on left is the earliest image we have of the sanctuary, as it existed in May 1909 – a mere 40 years from when the congregation first met there in 1870. Notice the location and height above floor level of the narrow door that lead to a room behind the sanctuary. A similar door was on the other side not shown in the photograph. The elevated pulpit area and baptistery are missing - only a large wood panel decorates the back wall. Also, the windows are open to let in air – the only means of air conditioning. There are no electric lights; electricity was not installed in the building until 1916.
The photograph taken outside reveals a yard that is more weeds than grass, granite slabs as steps, no shrubbery and no paved walkway. Otherwise, the front of the church looks like it appears in an old postcard published in the 1920s.
These two photographs are valuable additions to our archival record and much gratitude to Robert Severance for this generous gift.