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Volunteers clean up around historic Pickett Chapel

Sinclaire Sparkman • Updated Jun 26, 2018 at 8:00 AM

Cars packed the parking lot at Pickett Chapel on Saturday as volunteers pitched in to help clean up the grounds to ready the historic location for the next step in its restoration. 

About 30 people joined the workday to take care of tasks like pick up bricks, clean out the flower bed, weed the grounds and generally get things in order around the historic church.

Also on Saturday, archaeologists looked for clues on what they think could be remains of another building on the Pickett Chapel grounds. 

“We think there was another building here the same age as the chapel, so we’re trying to confirm that there is in fact another building here. They’re handmade bricks. We don’t know if they’re the same bricks, but they’re certainly made in the same way, which means they’re the same vintage. It looks like it could be a pretty big structure, but we’re not sure exactly how big yet,” said archaeologist and committee member Phil Hodge. 

The 191-year-old building on Market Street is a focal point of African-American history in Wilson County and has been a labor of love for the Wilson County Black History Committee for about 10 years. Once the committee decided to restore the building, they chose to restore it to how it looked in the period of the early 1900s. 

Pickett Chapel was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1977.

New front doors were recently placed on the building after the entranceway was restored to the earlier period style. The doors are heavy wood and fashioned after a picture of the chapel in the 1920s. Other completed restoration efforts included roof repairs, a proper drainage system with period-specific gutters, demolition of the annex and other structural repairs. 

The next thing on the committee’s list for Pickett Chapel is to replace the windows, some of which were stained glass. 

The committee would like to use the open area at the back of Pickett Chapel, where the annex used to be, as a place hold outdoor community events, according to WCBHC president Mary Harris. 

“We want to give our appreciation to all who came out to work today at Pickett Chapel,” said Harris. 

Call 615-444-9487 for more information about the Pickett Chapel project.  

 

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