Hello and welcome to part 10 of our journey through North Carolina.
After eating at The Log House Restaurant in West Jefferson, NC we remembered reading an article in their local paper about a little church not far from there called Holy Trinity Church. It supposedly contained a fresco of the “Lord’s Supper”. Believing this would be interesting, we were off to find it. Like most signage, it was a bit misleading, however, after going in circles, we found it. Walking up, there was a flurry of people landscaping this tiny little church that we later learned had been abandoned for many years. As we walked inside, there was the fresco. While admiring this exquisite work of art, a gentleman by the name of Doug strolled in to greet us. Before you know it, we were having a wonderful conversation about the history of the church, the fresco and his life.
Doug noted Holy Trinity church officially closed in 1946 and, after 30 years of being neglected, a campaign started in the 70’s to restore it. Today the church has its original pews, altar, and candle stands.
In 1980 a man by the name of Ben Long was in the town visiting and someone invited him to church gathering. It was at this gathering he took a liking to the town’s people and offered to use his talents and the next thing you know a fresco of the “Lord’s Supper” was being done. Fresco painting is created by pressing pigment into wet plaster.
Long and 20 of his students spent three months completing the original while the church was still undergoing renovations. Area residents began taking an interest in what was taking place and were supportive of the work. The churches of the community (regardless of denomination) offered to feed the artists – creating a bit of competition for the best meal served. Local people served as models for all the biblical figures except the waiting maid, Judas, Thomas, and Christ. Benjamin F. Long was the model for Thomas. Isn’t it great how all the churches pulled together and the focus was on community? We just love stories like this. Wouldn’t it be great to have that concept back again?
As we talked the topic of conversation turned to Doug, 84 years young and originally from Georgia. He noted working at North Carolina State doing mostly research in the field of crop science but also taught. The focus of his PhD studies was “Witch Weed” also known as “Striga” because it was invading farmers crops and becoming quite a problem. After graduating he was invited to stay on staff and resided in Raleigh. Because they liked the West Jefferson area they built a vacation home there. He noted the more they vacationed there the more they wanted to stay until one weekend his wife said she didn’t want to go back to Raleigh. We laughed at how he knew that if he wanted to stay married he’d better get with the plan so they sold their home in Raleigh, his wife transferred her job and they became full time residents in West Jefferson. It was so much fun talking with Doug and couldn’t help laughing at what a small world it was when he noted his sister had lived in Fairport NY and they visited there on numerous occasions. Fairport, NY is a suburb of Rochester, NY, our hometown. When we talked about sharing his story here he was pleased. Thank you, Doug, and may God continue blessing you.
(To view the video, click in the image above.)
From here it was time to settle in for the evening and to our jo we discovered “Down by the River Campground” in nearby Pineola, NC where we spent the next couple days relaxing along the Linville River in the heart of Pisgah National Forest.
Well this is it for today. We hope you come back and see how the trip unfolds as we share more of USA Through Our Eyes. Until then be safe.