Submitted by Eleanor Sharp
An excellent, noted carpenter, Will Tingle — a board member and deacon of the church — remodeled the chapel in 1926. When you look at the steeple at the front of the chapel, you would see what a superb builder he was. The hand carved circle, which was centered on this masterpiece proudly displayed these words, Drennon Springs Chapel — 1862.
The Christian Church at Port Royal was razed and these materials were given to Drennon Chapel: stained glass windows, pulpit furniture, communion table and chairs, folding benches, and the bell to hang in the belfry. The same style steeple as the Port Royal was then constructed above the front entrance of Drennon Chapel. Two windows with stained glass replaced the front doors, which were centrally located at the entrance of the chapel. Gayle Chilton remembered going with his father James to Port Royal in their old jolt wagon pulled by a team combination of a horse and mule, to bring the bell down to the chapel. When they arrived at Drennon Chapel, a hard rain was falling and a funeral had closed, with a burial about to take place at the back of the cemetery for Durward Miskell’s mother. Gayle said “Here, take my rain coat and wear it to your mother’s grave.” They were both 12-years-old, the same size, and good friends. What a wonderful deed!
In completing the remodeling task in 1927, a raised pulpit was added to the back of the chapel using the remaining materials that were brought from the Port Royal Church. Three stained glass windows were added to the rear, somewhat in a semi-hexagonal shape and two steps were added to the front. Stories were often told of the times the chapel was filled to the brim with so many people that the children would sit on the pulpit steps.
The membership was at one time the largest of any rural church in the state, with more than 200 members. However, the average attendance in the last decades was about 35. There was no more women’s missionary society, youth fellowship or Sunday school, due to the lack of children remaining after growing up and going their own ways.
During the 1937 flood, the old chapel was a haven for many. People were forced to leave their homes for higher ground. The chapel was built upon a knoll at the foot of a steep hill called Troutman Hill. Many folks had endured the dreadful drought of 1936 and then had to overcome the great flood. In January 1937, it rained and rained to ravish the drought and bring the flood. Folks bonded together in sharing the bounty of the land and taking in family who had to leave their homes.
In 1954, Sunday school rooms were added inside the front walls of the original building, creating a foyer with two rooms on each side and three more upstairs.
On Sept. 28, 1958, the congregation voted and accepted the constitution, which was written by the official board and approved as written, and signed by W. O. Barren, secretary, and Wayne R. Neiderhuth, minister. It was written in the constitution that the name Drennon Springs Chapel has officially changed to Drennon Christian Church, Disciples of Christ. Also stated in the bylaws was that after the official board voted and decided on business matters, the congregation would then vote for final approval.
An educational and fellowship building was erected in 1962. J. France Mahoney, a church member, excavated the ground for the basement with his bulldozer. Claude Berry Jr., of Eminence, was the builder. This building houses the kitchen, dining area, and a cistern on the west wall in the basement. The building needed heat due to the cistern, bathroom and kitchen area. Therefore, due to cold winters, Sunday worship service was held for 11 winters in this building to save on heating bills that would have occurred from heating both buildings.
There was a sense of closeness in the church family, and most ministers said they enjoyed using the Fellowship Hall for that reason. Meals were enjoyed on fifth Sundays and special occasions.