Old Jamestown building survives the test of time
By Mary Browning

The only job the small red brick building has now is to sit there and look interesting, and it performs that task very well. It faces one of the parking lots at High Point City Lake Park, and has a sign in front that says “Jamestown Friends Meeting House and Cemetery,” and gives a brief history and description. 

The building is about 190 years old. Approximately 25 years ago it was restored by High Point under the supervision of the High Point Historical Society, which has overall responsibility for it. Paul Collins skillfully repaired the brick and stone foundation and chimney. Since that time, it receives regular maintenance attention from the park staff. It is occasionally used for small weddings or meetings.

It survived because it was well built and because it probably never had the kind of heavy daily use that wears down even the best Carolina red brick. That does not mean that it was never a busy place, however. 

The one room structure was built by the George Mendenhall family—the original Jamestown developers—as part of their planned town, which they called Jamestown to honor George’s father. Actually, the meetinghouse was just outside the original town limits, but it was situated prominently at the end of Union Street, which is now the street that enters the park.. 

Jamestown Quakers, who belonged to Deep River Monthly Meeting, used it for mid-week worship as early as 1818. Since the meetinghouse was on land retained by a family member, George C. Mendenhall inherited it and ownership then passed by his will in 1850 to the Commissioners of the Corporation of Jamestown. 

Sometimes it was used as a school between about 1870 and about 1900, although there was a separate school building nearby for many years. When Jamestown lost its charter, ownership of the meetinghouse reverted to the family, and eventually to Mary Mendenhall Hobbs, a great-granddaughter of George Mendenhall, Sr. Mrs. Hobbs sold the building in 1915 to the Jamestown Primitive Baptist Church. 

The congregation of the church was African American, and the building was used by this group until 1933, when the church’s trustees sold the building to the City of High Point, which had already purchased much of the surrounding land for the water works dam, and the park. 

The Jamestown Primitive Baptist Church trustees named on the deed were Ezekiel Fuller and wife Mezeriah Fuller, Nat Martin and wife Bessie Martin, and David Hobson and wife Roda Hobson.

The Fullers lived very near the church, on Main St. in Jamestown. Minerva Mendenhall had given Mezeriah two lots in her will of 1900, and these lots were very near the present entrance to the park. The Fullers are shown on the 1900 census in Jamestown with two sons, William and Walter. Ezekiel’s occupation is listed as “drayman,” or driver of a freight wagon. There is a photo of Mezeriah Fuller in the small museum building at the Mendenhall Homeplace across the street from the park.

The small burial ground next to the meetinghouse contains few legible stones, but one of them is for Eliza Martin, wife of Nat, possibly the “Bessie” named as a trustee on the deed. She died in 1906, according to her broken stone.

This burial ground contains graves that date from an earlier time, also. Both David Lindsay, who owned a general store and died in 1860, and his wife Sarah (Dillon), who died in 1864, are buried there. Other names are Hicks, Rule, Eaton, Jones, McMilon, Parsons, and Harriss. Many graves have no stones at all, but in one instance, brand new markers have replaced the old ones.

This is a time when it’s difficult to find ways to maintain old buildings and burial grounds, so it’s refreshing to know that—at least in this instance—someone is taking care of it.

News & Record, Sunday, May 22, 2005

Reprinted with permission of the News & Record  and of the author