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House destroyed to make room for youth park

House destroyed to make room for youth park
House destroyed to make room for youth park | House destroyed to make room for youth park
Special Features Editor
Have you heard about the new preacher in town who brought the house down?
In his first “official” Monday on the job, Dr. Cecil Sewell — who has been the interim pastor at Union City First Baptist Church for several months and who preached his first sermon as the congregation’s newly-hired pastor Sunday — oversaw the demolition of a close-to-century-old house that had fallen on hard times in the church’s neighborhood. He had encouraged members of the congregation to envision new and dramatic life for the property and brought his unique brand of energy and enthusiasm to the project from the beginning.
The home — distinctive of late because of the dramatic green and mustard colors used to paint various exterior portions of the dwelling — was apparently once a gracious lady occupying a tree-shaded lot on the southwest corrner of Church and Ury streets near downtown Union City. However, times change and the lady’s charm altered, as well. In more recent years, ownership of the property had resided with former resident Evelyn Rodenberger of Knoxville and the late Frank Rodenberger, who were saddened to learn that renters had apparently not always respected the home’s gentle legacy.
Members of the congregation at First Baptist, having built a family life center on property across Church Street and south of their sanctuary and education building a few years ago, latched on to their new pastor’s dream for the property just across Ury Street from that center. They recently struck a deal with the owners and, with deed in hand, moved on this week to the next phase of the plan.
The house, it seemed clear, was not a building that could serve the needs of the church or the community in its present state. But it was determined the lot which it occupied could be put to excellent use.
The plan was to clear the bricks and mortar and framing and stucco and shingles and pipes and water and electric lines and prepare the lot for service as a youth park.
“Our young people have a good place to spend their time indoors in our family life center,” said church member Terry Petty, “but there was really no place for them to have any activities outdoors. That’s our vision for the property — a safe and welcoming place for young people that will also represent the neighborhood well.”
Sewell, Petty and fellow church member David Fowler were among those on hand Monday morning when Dennis Scarborough positioned his rumbling long-necked backhoe on the west side of the lot and took a giant bite out of the back of the dwelling.
Had the edifice been constructed in the last few years, bystanders suggested, that one hungry gulp might have been enough to dislodge strategic studs and permit the rest of the walls to collapse. But this lady had a “backbone of steel,” as Scarborough gradually revealed, and she hung on — determinedly upright — while his multi-toothed monster repeatedly bit off far more than it appeared the yellow beast could politely chew and then spit out the bones on a rapidly expanding debris pile nearby.
It was a fine show, with intermittent gentle showers tamping down the resulting dust from time to time while curious children and seniors strolled the sidewalks and  inquisitive drivers slowed and then circled the block for another look.
“This is just the beginning of good things to happen for First Baptist and the community it serves,” said Petty.
Mrs. Caudle may be contacted at glendacaudle
Published in The Messenger 8.9.11

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