Spring Hill Missionary Baptist Church
Tupelo, Mississippi (Lee County)
Completed in 1921, the historic Spring Hill Missionary Baptist Church housed the first African American congregation in Tupelo for over 80 years. It is one of the oldest surviving church buildings in Tupelo, which lost many landmarks in the devastating tornado of 1936. Architecturally the red brick building is impressive, rising two full stories above a raised basement. The massing of the building clearly shows the influence of the Gothic Revival style with its flanking entrance towers. However, the building’s details, such as its stained glass windows, show the influence of the Arts and Crafts movement which had become very popular by the 1910s and 20s.
The historic Spring Hill Missionary Baptist Church is threatened by deterioration and possible demolition. Recently the congregation erected a new sanctuary next door, leaving the future of the historic building in limbo. There are calls by some in the congregation for demolition of the structure either to avoid upkeep or to use the site for parking.
The City of Tupelo’s historic preservation commission recently identified the structure as one of 10 sites in their community worthy of preservation. However, the city has not yet designated the church building as an historic landmark or the neighborhood as an historic district, so demolition of the historic edifice is possible at any time.
2015 Update – Saved
The Tupelo Convention & Visitors Bureau is leading the creation of a Heritage Trails Enrichment Program, highlighting significant pieces of the city’s storied past. The Heritage Trails Enrichment Program was created to identify significant people, places, and events in Tupelo and Lee County. As part of this program, a new marker was placed in front of the Spring Hill Missionary Baptist Church to identify, market, and promote its history. The Mississippi Heritage Trust visited Spring Hill Missionary Baptist Church during its 2014 Listen Up! Conference.