By Sherrie Norris
The long-awaited renovation of the Rumple House in Blowing Rock is now completed; the structure has been dedicated and will be open for public visits beginning this week.
According to Sarah Parker, Director of Operations at Rumple Memorial Presbyterian Church, Rumple House is a Main Street staple that has been owned by the church for many years.
Located to the right of the sanctuary, looking from Main Street, it was the goal to have Rumple House restored as close as possible to its original 1886 footprint, Parker shared.
“For the last year and a half, it has undergone a total renovation,” Parker said. “While the primary use for the house will now be church staff offices, it will also provide space for church gatherings and special events.”
Under the care and leadership of Kathy Beach, church pastor for the last six-plus years, Parker said, Rumple Memorial has seen increased membership by over 25-percent. “She has also led us through a $5 million capital campaign for manse and Rumple House renovations, as well as a new fellowship building, with construction starting next spring.”
Additionally, Parker added, “Rumple has purchased two Ben Long frescoes that will hang in a soon-to-be renovated gallery at the church for public viewing.
With move-in completed in late October, and a formal dedication service on Sunday, October 29, it is now time to invite the community in to see the completed project.
Open House opportunities for the public have been scheduled for November 16, from 1-3 p.m., and November 21, from 10 a.m. -12 noon.
Parker has worked especially close with the building committee and staff, and joins Pastor Beach in welcoming the public to stop in for a tour of the house.
The dedication ceremony for Rumple House was aptly held on Reformation Sunday, with congregants leaving the sanctuary from the workshop service and going in procession to the Rumple House lawn with a bagpiper leading the way. The church’s fellowship committee served tea and scones following a prayer and blessing of the house.
The church was named in honor of the Rev Jethro Rumple, a Presbyterian pastor from Salisbury who made frequent missionary visits to the mountains and was a summer resident of Blowing Rock in his later years.
Church history relates that Presbyterians were the first to build a house of worship in Blowing Rock, which had begun attracting summer residents after the Civil War. The church founders included Col. William J. Martin, Sr., and his son and namesake, who were both professors at Davidson College. Mrs. Emma Stewart, (who ran a summer boarding house in Blowing Rock, similar to that which she operated during the school year in Davidson), joined the Martins, as did other seasonal and permanent residents.
With its first meeting place, a “small frame structure” built in 1886, the church was organized a year later with eight members — “And has been going strong ever since,” church leaders described.
There is a variety of ministry opportunities available for all ages and interests at Rumple Memorial Presbyterian Church.
Worship services are held in the sanctuary on Sunday mornings, year-round at 11 a.m. To accommodate seasonal residents and guests, from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend, an early service begins at 8:45 a.m.
For more information, call 828-295-7675 or visit www.rumplechurch.org.
Rumple Memorial Presbyterian Church is located at 1218 Main Street in Blowing Rock