By Carolyn Tomlin
Contributing writer, B&R
BROWNSVILLE — Woodland Baptist Church, located in eastern Haywood County, has completed a restoration of the 100-year-old auditorium. After 13 months, the congregation moved back into the renovated auditorium in February of 2021.
Due to tithes, donations and other gifts, the renovation of Woodland Baptist is debt free.
After 10 decades, the auditorium was in need of repair. The plaster was cracking and the sheetrock was bulging. When the sheetrock was pulled off, there was black mold and rotted studs. Also, there were concerns about the foundation. Water was seeping into the basement. Serious structural problems were evident.
After the deacons, pastor and committees met, it was decided to bring the matter of restoring the auditorium to the church body. In November of 2019, the church voted to proceed with the renovation. The project was begun in January of 2020, just prior to the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Soon, many churches had to close. However, Woodland was able to continue meeting in the adjacent gym where members could social distance and adhere to other guidelines.
Bert Porch, a deacon who was instrumental in working with the contractors said he never “heard a cross word or complaint. I believe this was because everything that took place was voted on by the members, down to the color of the wall and the color of the carpet.”
The historical marker on the site notes: Woodland Baptist Church has its roots in Brown’s Creek Baptist Church which was located at the present site of Woodland Cemetery.
It was established by Rev. Obadiah Dodson, Samuel Brown and other settlers. In 1835 when the congregation split over the issue of missions, a group of members constituted Brown’s Creek Missionary Baptist Church and built to the south upon Brown’s Creek.
After the Civil War, that property was ceded to the former slave members, and another building was erected on this present site.
In 1870, the church voted to change their name to Woodland Baptist Church. The present sanctuary was completed c. 1920 and placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2003.
The building is an example of the ecclesiastical design that combines craftsman influences on the exterior with an interior floor plan known as the “Akron” plan, which allows for more Sunday School rooms on the sides of the auditorium. B&R