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ST. PAUL'S-ON-THE-PLAINS CHURCH

During its lifetime, St. Paulís-on-the-Plains has inhabited three sites. The original church was located on the northeast corner of 15th and Avenue O. In 1927, the church was moved to 16th Street and Avenue Q and expanded in cruciform shape to accommodate a growing congregation. In 1940, the diocese sold the property to A. M. Leftwich Sr. and built the new St. Paulís at 16th and Avenue X. In 1995, the Leftwich family donated the building to the LHS, and the City of Lubbock donated the space for its final home at 4215 University at the Arboretum.

St. Paulís-on-the-Plains began services in 1914 with a congregation of 5 men and 10 women. Sally McKee Coleman was the driving force behind the establishment of the Episcopal faith in what was then a small, duty, slow-growth town in a county of 293 people, located on the top of the treeless Llano Estacado.

Mrs. Coleman organized the Episcopal Womenís Guild a decade before there was an official church and prevailed up on Bishop Garrett (who assumed pastoral direction of a missionary territory of over 100,000 square miles) to travel to Lubbock at least three times between 1900 and 1909 to administer communion.

Sally McKee Coleman died in 1910 Ė a year after Lubbock was incorporated and four years before St. Paulís-on-the-Plains was finished Ė but her tireless efforts to bring the Episcopal faith to Lubbock were commemorated with an alter given in her name by the Womenís Auxiliary and with a baptismal font now located at St. Paulís on 16th and Avenue X, given by her son Max Coleman.

On January 11, 1914, Bishop Temple held the first services in the unfinished building and confirmed Mrs. Roscoe Wilson and Miss Julia Pickett. St. Paulís-on-the-Plains was officially dedicated May 7, 1914. A letter by Mary Elizabeth Randal gives us a glimpse of the complications of worship experienced by this first small but ardent congregation:

ďThe first tiny St. Paulís Church was heated by a wood-and-coal burning stove and the men in the congregation took turns stoking the fire during the service. The members who sat away from the stove froze in the wintertime and those closest to the stove fainted. At Easter it was not considered a successful service unless at some time someone would faint from the heat and had to be carried out. Those were the days!Ē

By 1927, St. Paulís-on-the-Plains had outgrown the tiny chapel and was moved to the corner of 16th and Avenue Q then expanded. It is at the Avenue Q location that most will remember the church.  

From 1927 to 1938, St. Paulís-on-the-Plains on Avenue Q played a dynamic role in responding to the needs of students attending the fledgling Texas Technological College. The Church provided holiday homes and meals for stranded students, organized student parties, and offered a Student Forum every Sunday evening with supper, devotions, discussion, and social time.  

By 1940, when the property was sold to A. M. Leftwich Sr. and the new St. Paulís was built at 16yth and Avenue X, St. Paulís-on-the-Plains boasted a membership of over 200, including a number of prominent civic leaders:

Mr./Mrs. Jed and Wallace Rix, Mr./Mrs. Dick Arnett, Texas Tech President Clifford B. Jones, Dean Mary Doak, Dr./Mrs. J. Michee, and Dr./Mrs. William Curry Holden, just to name a few.

The LHSís restoration of St. Paulís-on-the-Plains has returned the church to its original one-room frame structure, measuring 20í x 30í with peaked roof, clapboard siding, Gothic windows and double front doors, as well as the color of the original exterior paint. The structure is substantially the earliest existing public building documented in the City of Lubbock Historic Site Survey and the only original church of any principal protestant denominations to survive its pioneer beginnings.  

With restoration, St. Paulís-on-the-Plains stands ready to serve as a humble echo of the past and a noble promise for the future. It was originally built, then lovingly restored, to nurture community. The LHS is proud to present this revitalized gathering place to the people of Lubbock.

~ excerpted from the LHS newsletter, Insite, Fall 1997


The Latest on St. Pauls-on-the-Plains Church

On June 22, 1997, St. Paulís-on-the-Plains Church was official dedicated at its permanent site in the Lubbock Arboretum at 4215 University. A crowd of over 200 joined in the celebration as the LHS turned over the keys of this new public building to the City of Lubbock.

The official ceremony also included a presentation of $350.00 to the preservation effort by the Junior Historians of Hutchinson Junior High. Through the guidance of history teacher Lonnie Wheeler, this student group raised a total of $2,350.00 for St. Paulís-on-the-Plains.

The District #2 Councilman T. J. Patterson performed the official Ribbon Cutting for the City, accepting the keys to the building from Tom Whiteside and taking the occasion to remind all of the churchís original purpose and future promise through this community preservation effort. Refreshments of homemade ice cream, cookies and punch were served.


The restored church can be rented out for wedding ceremonies at its current location at th the Lubbock Arboretum on 4215 University Ave.


The structure being moved to its current location.

Members of the LHS greeting guests to our fall 2012 "Haunted Lubbock" evening presentation at St. Paul's-on-the-Plains Church. More pictures from the event.


OTHER LUBBOCK HISTORIC STRUCTURE SPOTLIGHTS

W. D. Benson House
A. B. Davis House
Mast-White House
St. Paul's-on-the-Plains Church
Texas Tech Dairy Barn

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Lubbock Heritage Society, P. O. Box 5443, Lubbock, Texas 79408 (806) 392.4949, LubbockHeritageSociety@gmail.com