Tuesday, May 13, 2008
The Mathews Methodist Tabernacle pictured above is on the National Registry of Historic Places.
This is a (bad) shot of the tabernacle. For the uninitiated, a tabernacle was basically an outdoor church "back in the day," where "day" in this instance is defined as circa 1900. Not my day, but Somebody's day, if Somebody is 100 years old.
This tabernacle is located below the courthouse in Mathews.
(Translation: "below" - means "further past." "Courthouse" means the village of Mathews, or the commercial part as opposed to the rest of it, which is.....RURAL. EXCESSIVELY RURAL. You may now return to The Normal English Language, already presumably in progress.)
According to a local publication, the Methodist Tabernacle was long used as a revival center. The original one was built around 1879, but the one pictured here had to be rebuilt in 1922, probably due to fire.
I asked my mother what she knew about the tabernacle. Her eyes got big as saucers as she proclaimed, "Oh my word. That was THE place on any given Sunday around here. People in hoop skirts would show up with picnic baskets and make a day of it." ("It" being church.) She said the indoor churches in the summer time would simply be too hot, so everyone congregated here, in the middle of the woods in Mathews. To hear preaching outside right next to the KILLER MOSQUITOES that no doubt were multiplying by the millions since most of Mathews at any given time is UNDER WATER and has many pools of stagnant water. (Of course, if you're wearing long dresses and hoop skirts, a mosquito in the heat of summer is the least of your worries.)
I could do some research on the tabernacle, but I'm fairly lazy. In the ideal world, my Mathews commenters would check with their relatives who were alive around 1900, or 1879, or 1492. It's all the same.
Truth be told, there are still many people living who would have great stories to tell of this tabernacle. For now, I'll leave those stories alone and let the picture speak for itself.
And what it's saying is, "If only these Outdoor Church pews could talk."