GERMANTON, N.C. – The once-historic Saint Philip’s Episcopal Church in Germanton is leaving town.
The Episcopal Dioceses of North Carolina, which owns the 1891 structure, made the decision early this year to move the church to Chapel Hill. The decision was made despite pleas from local residents, a new local congregation and local historians.
Church leaders say St. Philip’s had been without a regular congregation since the 1980s and believed it would better serve the Episcopal Church of the Advocate in Chapel Hill.
"I just hate to see it go," said resident Dennis Jones, who watched as crews from Blake Movers moved the sanctuary onto a flatbed Wednesday night.
Until recently, the Gothic revival-style church remained in pristine condition as it was built in the 19th century with no electricity or running water. Now, the structure is no longer considered historic as church leaders plan to reconstruct and modernize it.
The building is also expected to be removed from the National Register of Historic Places. The church, which sits in both Forsyth and Stokes County, was considered the oldest Episcopal Church in Forsyth County.
“To lose a church that was built in 1891 that was as beautiful as this one is a great loss,” said Catherine Hendren with Preserve Historic Forsyth, who -- along with a new growing Episcopal congregation in Germanton -- worked for months to try and save the church. “We would have wished that the bishop would have seen fit to have two lively congregations, instead of one lively congregation with a building.”
The church will be moved at 9 a.m. Thursday. It will travel rural roads until it arrives in Chapel Hill on Dec. 8.