North Driver and East Main Street, looking north, 1946. Carr United Methodist is partly visible on the left, before the completion of the sanctuary in 1949.
(Courtesy Durham County Library / North Carolina Collection)
Carr United Methodist church began out of the establishment of the Durham Cotton Manufacturing Company in East Durham. Julian Carr, who, along with the Dukes was a lifelong Methodist, provided the funds to establish the church on the north side of the railroad tracks, across from the factory. The first structure was a frame building located at the northeast corner of Clay (then called Watts) and Peabody Streets.
At a quarterly conference at Trinity Church in 1885, the main topic of discussion was church expansion - to reach out to the people of the eastern and western parts of Durham. At that time, a building committee for the eastern section was appointed including: Julian S. Carr, chairman, E. J. Parrish, Rev. Alexander Walker, J. C. Angier, James Southgate, J. B. Walker, T. B. Smith, H. N. Snow, T. D. Jones, J. M. Odell, Washington Duke, and W. H. Branson. They obtained permission to hold services on the fourth ﬂoor of the East Durham Cotton Mill on E. Pettigrew Street until a church could be built. At the annual conference held in Durham in 1885, the Rev. W. S. Black was named presiding elder and the Rev. Amos Gregson, a local lay pastor was appointed pastor of the East End and West End churches. On July 22, 1886, Gregson reported to the District Conference: "The religious services of East Durham are held in the factory of the Durham Cotton Mfg. Co. At this place we have organized a church of twelve members and have a Sunday School numbering one hundred ofﬁcers, teachers, and scholars. We expect soon to begin the erection of a house of worship which when ﬁnished will cost about $2,000." The site for the ﬁrst church, a lot of about 3/4 acres, was purchased from Mr. Grey Barbee for the sum of $300. This lot was located directly across the railroad from the mill on the southeast corner of Clay and Peabody Streets. The cornerstone of the church was laid on August 26, 1886. This date is now accepted as the birthday of Carr Methodist Church. The church was named for General Julian S. Carr, a member of the building committee, who on many occasions made liberal donations to the building fund and other needs of the church. The charter members of the church were: A. E. Brewer, Mariah Brewer, J. P. Hornbuckle, Susan S. Hornbuckle, Lela P.
Faucette, Richard F. Hornbuckle, James R. Cole, Smanthy B. Cole, Ira Mayton, A. M. Culberson, Alice W. Faucette, Laura B. Faucette, and Amos Gregson, pastor. The ofﬁcers of the Sunday School were: W. H. Branson, Superintendent, E. C. Barnhardt, Secretary. Teachers were: J. R. Cole, J. P. Hornbuckle, E. W. Hayes, T. J. W. Brown, Jennie P. McLeod, Mrs. Clara Branson, Mary Geans, Nettie Wilson, Annie Lloyd, E. W. Worth, Jennie Cox, and H. C. Kirk - a total of 14. There were 114 scholars on roll. The ﬁrst couple married in the church were Mr. and Mrs. T. J. W. Brown.
The ﬁrst structure was only one room and was used until 1908, when a wing was built on the west side and called the Sunday School unit. This was closed off from the main room by sliding doors which could be opened and used during the worship service.
In 1916, it became evident more room was needed. Since the town was growing to the north, the trustees decided to try to secure a building site in a more centralized location. They bargained for a lot on the corner of E. Main and Driver Streets, known as the T. B. Smith property. At this time, conditions became uncertain due to World War I, so it was decided to take the money available and add a two story annex to the present building. It was added to the north side of the main room, completed in 1917 and used for 15 years.
In 1925, three houses burned on Driver Avenue near E. Main Street. The trustees secured these lots along with land purchased from Mr. H. A. Jones for a total of $5,800. This amount was paid in one year. These lots provided space for the new church and parsonage.
The congregation built the new church in stages over the period of 1925-1949. It appears that the original church was demolished in 1932 (although the original Parsonage stood until relatively recently.)
A building fund was started under the leadership of Rev. J. H. Buffaloe and Mr. J. B. Simpson was named treasurer. The fund grew until there was a total of $25,426 in the treasury. In 1930, the new parsonage was built at a cost of $9,186, leaving a balance of $16,240. With this plus $3,500 which had to be borrowed, the educational unit was built. This was a three story brick building. Worship services were held in the auditorium on the ground ﬂoor. The pastor's study, ofﬁce, and classrooms were on the second level and there were classrooms on the third ﬂoor. Rev. J. A. Russell was pastor at this time. He and his family were the ﬁrst occupants of the new parsonage.
Rev. M. C. Dunn was appointed to Carr in 1941. The membership of the church at that time was 620 with $1,972.81 in the building fund. Under Mr. Dunn's leadership, a program was launched to raise the necessary money for the new sanctuary. It was estimated at this time that $30,000 would build the new addition but it soon became evident that this was far too small an amount. Actual construction of the sanctuary was begun in 1947 and completed in 1949, at the cost of $149,633. Rev. Dunn remained pastor for 11 years during which time the membership increased to 900. This figure reflects the activity that marked the decade of the 1940's and early 1950's - World War II era. This was a period of great activity on the part of the congregation. During this time, $115,000 was raised for the new sanctuary.
Some of the activities participated in during these years included: a Carr Church Newsletter for service men and women from the church and community, basketball teams, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts,art classes, the Community Players, a community library, a nursery and a playground.
Rev. T. J. Whitehead came as pastor in 1952. During his pastorate, the remaining debt was reduced to $10,000. At the morning service on April 8, 1956, Mr. J. B. Simpson, the treasurer of the building fund since its beginning in 1930, had the privilege of handing to the pastor, Rev. H. B. Lewis, a check covering the last payment on the principal of indebtedness. On August 26, 1956, dedication services for the sanctuary were held with Paul M. Barber, Bishop; C. D. Barclift, District Superintendent; and H. B. Lewis, Pastor, presiding.
In September 1956, a loan of $10,000 was made for the renovation of the education unit. A committee for long range planning was appointed and during this year the old auditorium on the ground ﬂoor of the education unit was divided to provide more space for the nursery and kindergarten classes. Also a committee was appointed for beautiﬁcation of church grounds. This was to be an ongoing project.
On Christmas Day 1960, Rev. Carl A. Johnson, the pastor, answered his call of departure from this life. His death brought great grief. His brief ministry made a real impact on the church. Stepping in as interim pastor was Dr. H. E. Myers, retired professor from Duke Divinity School. He and his wife, "Mrs. Rosa", served with much love and understanding during their six month stay. Since the Myers family was living in their own home, it seemed an ideal time to complete a needed renovation of the parsonage.
In June 1961, Rev. W. A. Seawell was appointed to Carr. In 1962 the H. A. Jones property on the corner of Driver Avenue and
E. Main Street was purchased for $8,000. The house was removed, a temporary parking lot replacing it. This lot was to be used until further beautiﬁcation plans could be made. In April 1962, the H. W. Stallings property on the north side of the parsonage was purchased for a sum of $7,500. The house was removed, the lot leveled, seeded, and used as an addition to the parsonage grounds. Later a redwood fence was installed around the parsonage property along with shrubbery in front of the fence. Also at this time wrought iron and brass rails were installed on the steps at the sanctuary entrance.
In October 1962, the Barbour property behind the church, on Cherry Grove Street was purchased for $5,000. In May 1963, the Carpenter property on East Main Street bordering the parking lot was purchased for $4,500. The rent from the two houses on these lots was used to help retire our loan.
A complete renovation program was adopted in 1965 for the whole church, setting up a priority list - each to be done as funds
became available. [...] It became evident a new organ was needed to replace the one that had been given in honor of Mrs. Nell Morris, teacher of the Friendly Bible Class (later renamed the Nell Morris Bible Class). An organ fund was established and in 1967 a new organ was purchased at a cost of $14,000. These funds were given as memorials for Mrs. Morris who died April 5, 1966. As the old organ was given to honor "Miss Nell", the new one was in memory of this much loved lady.
Mrs. Henrietta Morris, who served for several years on the beautiﬁcation committee prior to her death in July 1966, left a sizeable sum in a trust fund, the interest to be used for outside beautiﬁcation and continuing maintenance. The beautiﬁcation committee started working on the plans she had presented: the removal of the two houses on lots the church had purchased, paving the parking lot and planting shrubbery. In March 1968, the State Highway Commission, in order to extend the East-West Expressway, bought the East Durham Cemetery for the sum of $9,850. The cemetery, given by the Barbee family, was owned jointly by Angier Avenue Baptist Church and Carr Methodist Church. The Highway Commission moved the graves to other cemeteries as designated by the families of the deceased. The money, $4,925, the church received from this sale was used for building repairs.
In 1968, the Methodist Church and the Evangelical United Brethren Church merged and became the United Methodist Church. At
this time the Women's Society of Christian Service became the United Methodist Women.
Under the leadership of Rev. L. J. Bridges in 1969, the members felt the need for spiritual growth and began making plans for study. At the June 1970 Conference, Rev. R. F. Bundy was appointed to Carr. Under his leadership in April 1971, planning was completed and the church participated in its ﬁrst Lay Witness Mission. This gave a spiritual surge of increased participation on the part of many and gave new growth to the life of the church.
The Y. E. Smith Branch of the Durham City and County Library, housed in the educational building of the church for 25 years was ofﬁcially closed as of August 31, 1972.
Both the church and the parsonage underwent considerable renovation in 1972. Various repairs were made throughout. Also, both buildings received paint, wallpaper and carpet. Through the estate of Mrs. Ida Baker, the church became the recipient of approximately $18,000 endowment funds.
In 1973 the church voted to begin a bus ministry for those without transportation and by fall 1974, a bus had been purchased
and was in operation.
Carr United Methodist, 1980
During  , the stained glass windows in the sanctuary were covered with Lexan, a material for the protection of the windows from outside damage. The entire church building was in need of a new roof [by 1985]. It was estimated that it would take approximately $46,000 to get this work done and the money should be on hand by the time the work was started. By June 1, 1986, the entire amount had been raised, the money in the bank waiting for the completion of the work.
The course of East Durham over the subsequent 10 years was an interesting study in cohort effect; while neighborhoods such as Edgemont has fallen on hard times through the 1950s and 60s - and even harder times during the 70s and 80s - East Durham remained a reasonably stable community during those decades. The generation of people who had established their homes in East Durham during the first decades of the 20th century remained in place; their children, however, did not. As an entire generation of East Durham began to pass away during the 1980s and 1990s, property went on the market and was not desirable to homeowners - landlords began to buy up houses, subdivide them, and rent them cheaply. The demographics of East Durham changed dramatically over this period.
By the 2000s, Carr United Methodist was hanging on, but barely. In 2008, the congregation had waned from 1000 strong in the 1950s to ~12 members. The remaining members decided to shutter the church by 2010, when they "signed over" the buildings to Shepherd's House UMC, "a church composed mostly of immigrants from Zimbabwe that was already sharing space at Carr and successfully reaching out to the surrounding neighborhood," the the Durham News article from July 2010.
Former Carr United Methodist, current Shepherd's House UMC 10.02.10
(I've done something a bit different here; I've placed the information in the first 3 comments below, a copied section from the above quoted church pamphlet entitled "I Remember." Because the short comments reminded me so much of comments on these posts, I've placed them there rather than in the text of the post.)
Find this spot on a Google Map.