Whitakers Baptist Church
- 2,700 square feet
- Lot Size: .0964 acres
, Regional Director
Preservation NC, Piedmont Office
Located in the heart of this small 19th-century railroad town just five minutes from Interstate 95, the Whitakers Baptist Church is a handsome vernacular example of the Gothic Revival-style. Completed in 1910, this spacious wood frame structure could be adapted into a compatible new use by a creative spirit or continue use as a place of worship.
Architectural and Historical Information
Established in 1740 by the Whitaker family who settled in nearby Fishing Creek, the village took root with the coming of the railroad around 1840, serving as a “turnout” for the Wilmington and Weldon line. The town continued to grow following the Civil War and experienced a building boom around the turn of the last century when fine buildings of various styles appeared on both sides of the railroad. The church anchors a prominent corner between Railroad Street and White Street (US 301), the main residential thoroughfare lined with stylish homes built facing the railroad.
The asymmetrical entrance façade faces Pittman Street and is comprised of a steep front-gable roof, a large pointed arch window in the center, and a bell tower topped by a flared conical roof anchoring the corner of the building on White Street. Tall pointed-arch windows with delicate tracery line the sides of the building letting in lots of light. The double-door main entrance in the tower is topped by its own pointed arch transom. Gothic louvered vents are on three sides of the tower. Beyond the pulpit and apse is a rear and side addition that holds the office, bathrooms and a nursery.
Apart from vinyl siding added in recent years, the Whitakers Baptist Church has sustained few changes during its long history. This early 20th-century church would make a fine artist retreat or weekend getaway – only twenty minutes from Rocky Mount, 45 minutes to Lake Gaston, and an hour from Raleigh. It is located in a proposed National register Historic District that has been placed on the Study List. Once listed, the Whitakers Baptist Church will be eligible for historic tax credits.
The Town of Whitakers was developed on land owned by Richard and Elizabeth Whitaker, who arrived in the area in 1740 and settled on Fishing Creek. One hundred years later, the Wilmington and Weldon Railroad came through and a siding for engines to take on wood and water was built and operated by a Whitaker descendant and became known as Whitaker’s Turnout. A village soon developed and was incorporated in 1872. The Town of Whitakers is located in both Nash and Edgecombe Counties, near the northern most portion of both. Whitakers is situated on both sides of the Seaboard Coast Line Railroad and on US Highway 301 and is a quick five-minute drive from interstate 95 and just 20 minutes from Rocky Mount, 45 minutes to Lake Gaston, and only an hour from Raleigh.