Chapel on the Hill
South Pittsburg
Historic Preservation Society, Inc.
Preservation through Determination -
Insuring a Place in the Future for Our Heritage!
Chapel on the Hill

    One of the recent projects of the South Pittsburg Historic Preservation Society Inc. is the ongoing restoration of the old Primitive Baptist Church building on Clute’s Hill. This beautiful century + old hand-hewn sandstone building is located at the corner of Elm Avenue and Eighth Street.
    The history of this unique structure has its beginnings on November 20, 1886 when a small group of members of the Primitive Baptist faith held a worship service in a frame schoolhouse located at the corner of Cedar Avenue and Fifth Street in South Pittsburg, Tennessee.  During this service, a church covenant was signed by those present for the establishment of a permanent church within the city. Formerly associated with the Primitive Baptist Churches in Sweeten’s Cove and Jasper, both within Marion County as is South Pittsburg, these members had letters of good standing written from those churches.  
    In 1888, Angus McRae, a contractor from Sewanee, Tennessee, was hired by Mr. Owen Russell Beene to begin construction of a suitable house of worship for the Primitive Baptist at South Pittsburg. The new structure, which was to be constructed of sandstone blocks quarried at Sewanee and brought to the site by horse-drawn wagons, was to occupy a section of land owned by Mr. Beene near the old Gunter Cemetery on Clute’s Hill. 
    By the spring of 1889, the construction of the church building was completed and ready for worship. On May 17th, for the sum of $1.00, Mr. Beene transferred ownership of the church building and property to the church’s trustees. Messrs. W.O. Patton, Angus McRae, and J.C. Beene were the trustees who accepted this deed with one restriction. It stated that “if the trustees or successors fail to maintain the church organization for a period of five (5) years at any one time, then the sale and the conveyance shall be null and void and said premises shall revert to the vendor, heirs or assignees.”
    The building continued to be a place of regular worship for the Primitive Baptist for 90 years and was only interrupted once when, in 1954, a fire destroyed the roof and the frame bell tower. With the exception of the bell tower, the stone church building’s roof was rebuilt and regular worship services once again commenced within the building.
    In 1979, due to a declining membership, the Primitive Baptist Church at South Pittsburg ended its regularly scheduled services within the historic building. And, in so doing, ownership of the building and property reverted back to the heirs of the late Owen Russell Beene as stipulated in the restriction he attached to the original deed to transfer ownership to the church.
    In 2001, in an effort to preserve the old church building, heirs to Mr. Beene transferred ownership of the building to the City of South Pittsburg. The structure has since been added to the National Register of Historic Places as part of the South Pittsburg Historic District. Since that time the South Pittsburg Historic Preservation Society Inc., working with the city, is restoring the church building, which is near completion.
    Renamed the Chapel on the Hill, the work on the rustic stone structure is progressing through donations, grants from the Marion Natural Gas System and the Sequachee Valley Electric Cooperative, fundraisers, and in-kind assistance by the students of the nearby South Pittsburg High School. With the installation of a heating & air conditioning system, the Chapel on the Hill is now available for weddings, receptions, family reunions, award ceremonies, and the like. All funds generated from the rental of the building will be put into a maintenance fund for the building.
    In an effort to generate additional maintenance funds, the Society has begun naming in honor of individuals the windows and pews in the Chapel for donations of $500 per pew and $2000 per window. A brass plaque denoting the individual will be placed on the selected pew or window once the donation is made. Donations may also be made in installments instead of one large payment. If interested in having a window or pew named in remembrance of a person either living or deceased or you are interested in renting the Chapel for your event you may do so by contacting the Society at: [email protected]

Windows named with inscribed brass plaque are as follows:

Prof. J. B. & Grace Dean Havron
Joe Ray & Juanita Wilson
George & Elizabeth McConnell
South Pittsburg Municipal Hospital Doctors - Viston Taylor, Russ Adcox, Jimmy Havron, Bill Headrick, Gene Ryan & John Hackworth
James Thomas Fitz-Gerald, Jr.
Mary Agnus Riggle Gentry & Ab Hembree Gentry
Lot Henry Warren
Owen Russell Beene
Descendants of Owen Russell Beene
Lodge & Kellermann Families

Pews named with inscribed plaque are as follows:

Pew #1 - In Honor of Mary Jane & Jere R. Brown

Pew #2 - Helen F. Clay

Pew #3 - Memory of Mary Lou Beene Peek
                Daughter Of
                George Lemuel Beene
                & Jessie Carlock Beene

Pew #4 - Children of John Wiseman & Mary Luisa Beene Peek
                Mary Etta Pulis
                Jessie Lorene Walters
                John Lemuel
                Charles Russell
                George Arnold
                Inez Joyce Lehman
                Billy Owen
                Evelyn Ruth Haynie
                Marshall Eugene
                Helen Marie Tills

Pew #5 - Charles Russell & Sadie Z. Peek
                Joyce P. Lysne
                Charlene P. Warren
                Kenneth Russell
                William Anthony & Helen Marie Peek Tills
                Debbie Marie Covey
                Bonnie Marie Tills
                Sherrie Marie Lavery
                William Anthony Tills, Jr.
                Hollie Marie Carey
                Vickie Marie Lehmann Kirner

Pew #6 - In Memory Of William H. Clay Jr. & Agnes C. Clay
                Mattie C. Beene
                W. Ed Clay
                Addie C. Gross
                Harvey P. Clay & Fannie T. Clay
                H. Bernard Clay
                W. Frederick Clay
                Creston T. Clay

Pew #7 - In Memory of Mary Lou Beene Peek
                Wife of John W. Peek
                Daughter of  George Lemuel Beene & Jessie Carlock Beene
                Given By
                Evelyn Ruth Peek and Husband Fletcher Haynie
                And niece Joyce Peek Lysne
                In Memory of David F. Haynie
                In Honor of Darrell W. Haynie and Charlotte L. Haynie Mattox

Chapel as it appeared in 1895
Chapel as it appeared January 9, 2005


This page was last updated: December 10, 2012