Marker #1855, “Hopewell,” At the church, 102 Hutchison Station Rd., Paris, US 27 & 68, Bourbon County.
Historical Marker #1855 on Route 27 and 68 tells the story of the Hopewell Presbyterian Church. According to Collins History of Kentucky, a group of people from Cumberland County, Pennsylvania settled and founded the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church at the south end of Bourbon County near the Fayette County line. This group sent George Pomeroy and John Veech to a conference of ministers and representatives of various churches held July 12, 1785 at Cane Run Meeting House in Mercer County to ask for membership. By April, 1787 Hopewell Church was a member of the Transylvania Presbytery.
The first building to be used for a place of worship was a log schoolhouse, a short distance from Grant’s Fort, on the Bryan Station Road. The Presbyterians were not the only settlers in this area. There were quite a few Dutch and German families: Liters, Hersmans, Bombargers, Mearbocks, Handscombes, Giltners and Huffmans. These people secured the services of a Lutheran minister in Lexington, who came out to preach for them in German. Some called them Dutch Reformed. These two groups shared this log schoolhouse.
According to the Shane papers from the Draper Collection, “The very first church at Hopewell was about 300 yards from the present church. It was a Dutch church….”In an interview with Mrs. Wm Posey, daughter of Rev. Samuel Rannels, first minister for the Presbyterians, we learn “Pa organized the church at Hopewell. The church was composed of Dutch _____ kept public… Pa preached at Hopewell six Sabbaths in the year and every other Tuesday. He preached in an old schoolhouse… When we got there on Saturday, there was a Dutch preacher in the pulpit, preaching to the people in Dutch. When he got through, Pa preached.”
The Presbyterians opened up a clay dirt bank 300 yards from the schoolhouse for a church site. The brick burned from this site was a light beige color; the first church was built from this brick. On April 14, 1818, the Presbyterians purchased an acre of ground at the corner of the Hutchison Station of Lexington-Paris Pike. They occupied this church in 1820 until it burned many years later.
The present structure, built in 1904, is the same light beige color brick. It cost $13,273. Some materials from the old church were used. It remained the same until 1950 when the interior was plastered and painted and electric lights were installed.
The Hopewell membership has never been large, but the legacies it has received have made it possible for the church to survive with ministers during most of its history.
Hopewell Church, founded in 1787; present building erected in 1904
Interior view of Hopewell Church.
For 30 years, people have brought their dogs to services at Hopewell. Welcoming pets is part of the church’s commitment to honoring the Earth and all its creatures…Inside the little gray brick church, old wooden pews have been painted sky blue. The carpet matches, and overhead is a cloud white ceiling. The pastor says the church is the first one he’s been involved with that doesn’t expect or insist its members follow a prescribed set of beliefs. The pastor also says that at Hopewell, fundamentalists and agnostics, conservatives and liberals sit, pray and argue with each other side by side. [ NPR , “All Things Considered,” 18 Aug 2013.]