Methodist Episcopal Church and Purvis Chapel A.M.E.Zion Church 1820

This image was published in 1941 in The Story of the Methodists in the Port of Beaufort by Amy Muse.
Amy Muse wrote, "On the lot between the burial ground and the colored church stood 'the house appointed for a Court House.' It had been deeded to the Wardens of the Parish of St. Johns by Richard Rustell in 1724. In it during the middle years of the seventeen hundreds, the service of the Anglican Church was read.

"A church building was erected on the same lot some time after 1774 so was practically new when the Methodists began using it. L.A. Potter, born in 1844, remembered the old church which, he said, stood until a short time before the Civil War. Robah F. Bumpas said this building was purchased by John White who moved it to the lot on which his residence stood on Water Street, now Front, and used it as a storehouse and shop. It was blown down by the storm of 1879 when the Atlantic Hotel went to pieces.

Purvis Chapel circa 1900 
Purvis Chapel circa 1999
Image: Beaufort's Old Burying Ground
"According to the 1820 deed registered in the Court House one half acre, lot 101, corner of Craven and Broad Streets, was purchased from the town 'to be erected and built thereon a house of worship for the use of the Methodist Episcopal Church in the United States of America.' The trustees to whom it was deeded were: James Chadwick, Samuel Chadwick, Elijah Canaday, Culpepper Pigott, Freeman Ellis, Peter Noe, Dillins Ellis, Jechonia Pigott and Anson Chadwick. Those who filed into the new church on Sundays were the Bells, Forlaws, Reads, Arendells, Halls, Lovetts, Rumleys, Murrays, Whitehursts, Barnes, Manneys, Perrys, Mansons, Leecrafts, Dills, Merrits, Fullers, Davises, Pivers, Thomases, Canadays, Langdons, Fulfords, Buckmans, Gabriels and many whose names are lost to us.

"In 1821 when Robert Wilkinson was here the church was dedicated by Lewis Skidmore who was one of the leading ministers of the Conference. Even then it was neither completed nor paid for. Still incomplete, January 2, 1830, 'It has never been plastered consequently is decaying fast.' It was repaired in 1836, not out of debt until 1840.

"When the white Methodists built a new church in 1854, Black Methodists were deeded the old Methodist church building, known as Purvis Chapel, in which to worship independently.

"In 1863, A.M.E. Zion missionary James Walker Hood established the first permanent A.M.E. Zion congregation in the South in New Bern. Several weeks later, he journeyed to Beaufort and enrolled Purvis Chapel in the A.M.E. Zion denomination, making it the second oldest church of the denomination in the South. During the Civil War, Purvis Chapel saw considerable usage for church, school and community purposes under the supervision of the Union Troops."
The old church was named after a popular revivalist minister, 
Reverend James Purvis, who visited in 1834. (see below)

Purvis Chapel Parishioners - Carteret County High School Collection
Image scanned from Beaufort Album of Memories by Jack Dudley
The two-story, gable-front building is five bays wide and was originally four bays deep, with two additional bays added. The chapel has a three-stage corner tower and a front pediment supported by two tapering Doric posts. Three entrances are recessed beneath the pediment. At the south front corner wall, surfaces project out to enclose an interior stair to the balcony. The tower also contains a balcony stair. The church has Gothic stained glass windows and some rectangular windows with Queen Anne colored glass lights.

The original 1820s church was apparently enlarged about 1900 with front additions to create the present appearance. The patterned shingles in the pediment and upper stage of the tower, as well as sawnwork kingpost ornament in the gables, relate the church stylistically to the Queen Anne/Gothic Revival style of the nearby 1854 Ann Street Methodist Church. 

Purvis Chapel's bell, a gift from Bishop Francis Ashbury, was cast in Glasgow, Scotland. It originally hung in the north tower, but now resides inside the church. Image courtesy Carteret County News-Times' Cheryl Burke 2013
In 1998 the Purvis Chapel was recognized with a second Kathryn Cloud Historical Preservation Award. In 1963, the building was one of Beaufort’s first twenty historic buildings to display a plaque.
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Lula Eliza Purvis King 1852-1894
Rev. James Purvis was born in Bertie County, NC in 1800 and died in 1857 in Wilkesboro, NC. Purvis joined the Methodist Conference in Norfolk, Virginia in 1832. On 4 Oct 1837, in Rowan County, he married Eliza Jemima Warne Baker, born in London, England 1 Dec 1816. (ancestry.com story: "Eliza left England for America as a young girl. She had never seen a black person before she landed in New York City. There was a young African American boy at the dock, and she went up to him and rubbed his skin with her finger to see if the color came off.)

Of James and Eliza's children, several died young and two sons died during the Civil War. Their youngest daughter Lula Eliza was born 13 Sept 1852. Her 1894 obituary, written by her mother, was sent to the NC Advocate. Her photo was originally submitted to ancestry.com on the Norville Family Tree 2 Jan 2010.

Messrs Editors,
I send you the obituary of my youngest daughter, which you will please publish. Her father belonged to our conference for a quarter of a century. I enclose a dollar to pay for it. If this is not enough, please let me know.
Yours truly,
Mrs. E.J.W. Purvis

Departed this life on Saturday night, Dec. 15, 1894, Mrs. Lula Eliza, wife of Dr. James E. King of Snow Creek, Iredell County, NC. They were married Jan. 2, 1879. She was the youngest daughter of Rev. James P. and Eliza, his wife and was born Sept. 13, 1852. She became a Christian when but a little child and joined the Methodist Church and never have we seen in the daily walk and conversation of anyone more of the spirit of Christ exemplified; ever kind and tender in her feelings and words, and always striving to promote the happiness and welfare of family and friends and in fact of all within the sphere of her influence. In all the relations of life as daughter, sister, wife, and mother, she was a lovely Christian faithful and true to her God and her friends. She left five lovely and interesting little daughters, one of them but two years old. Her third child, little Willy, had been taken to Heaven some years ago and he was watching and waiting to welcome her home. Her illness was of less than two weeks when the beloved Lord said to her, "It is enough! Come up higher!" She remained a devoted and consistent member until death.
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This post was compiled from various sources, including Ruth Little’s 1997 Beaufort National Register Historic District Survey, Amy Muse's The Story of the Methodist in the Port of Beaufort, Mamr√© Wilson's Story of North Carolina's Historic Beaufort and ancestry.com.