Once it was a landmark of growth and progress, only the second Methodist congregation in Jackson, just across the railroad tracks in the fashionable new suburban area being laid out on West Capitol Street. Then it became the symbol of human fickleness, its suburban population moving to the latest suburbs on the northern side of the city in the 1960s and 1970s. By the early 1990s, its congregation was gone. Last week, after years of abandonment and neglect, Capitol Street Methodist Church, began to collapse and soon it will be demolished, its vacant lot joining the many others on West Capitol, a scene only of memories, and then after a few years even those will be gone.
Built in 1912, the Gothic Revival-style Capitol Street Methodist was possibly designed by Chattanooga architect Reuben Harrison Hunt and built by Jacksonian I.C. Garber, both of whom built many other solid and imposing landmarks around the state and region. It has been one of my rare joys when I drive out to West Jackson, crossing Gallatin Street, to look across at these two towers still standing strong. I’ll miss that. The 1950s portion of the campus is still occupied by Voice of Calvary Ministries, and I assume they are the owner of the older building as well. I noticed a few years ago that the stained glass windows had been removed from the 1912 building, never a good sign for an old church as it generally means the owners are just taking everything of value before the building is too far gone.
West Capitol Street still has many of its imposing landmarks but it has lost many even in the last decade. The demolition of Capitol Street Methodist will mark a huge change on the street, and gives warning about some of the other under-utilized or abandoned buildings in West Jackson, such as the imposing Masonic Temple whose clocks are also ticking away–unless something is done to save them, they too will one day be too far gone to bring back to life.