Cornelius Commissioner Kurt Naas has been working on gathering support for the project, and aShortChronicle reached out to see what information he might be able to provide. Here's what Naas was able to pass along.
“The Hut”, as the congregation refers to it, was built in 1932 as part of Mill Chapel (later renamed Unity Church). From the Great Depression to the 1960’s the church served blue collar workers on Davidson’s west side. In true Davidson fashion it was built by the community- no contractor, no architect. Men cut timber and women stripped bark, and in the depths of the Great Depression they built something that lasted nearly a century.
It was known as the “Unity Hut” until Reeves Temple bought the site in 1966 with help from the son of former Davidson College President Walter Lingle. The younger Lingle donated funds with one condition: that the Unity Hut be named in honor of his father.
For the next fifty years the Lingle Hut served as the social hall for Reeves Temple. As the congregation aged and children moved away membership declined, and the Hut fell into disrepair. It has been unusable since 2014 and is in danger of collapse.
Built in a “rustic revival” style of architecture, the Lingle Hut is one of only five such structures remaining in Mecklenburg County. Recognizing this, the Mecklenburg Historical Landmarks Commission designated it an “historically significant” site in 2007.
Naas became aware of the plight of the Lingle Hut through Lela Johnson, a 90-year-old Davidson native a lifelong member of Reeves Temple. Johnson, along with the rest of the congregants, would very much like to see this key part of their past restored for the benefit of future generations.
Naas and his wife Maria are assisting with publicity because they feel it represents a unique opportunity to restore not just a piece of history but also a piece of community.
“For decades the Hut was used by lifelong Davidson residents,” Naas said. “It was built by the Davidson community in the middle of the Great Depression. We hope the Davidson community will once again come together to restore it.”
For those interested in helping, Reeves Temple will be holding a kickoff meeting at the church on 219 Watson Street on Sunday, April 29th from 4-5pm See this Facebook event for more details.