During the Great Depression, there was a revival in American spirituality. Many churches were expanding as their memberships grew. Originally a ministry of First Baptist Church of Tuscaloosa, Southside Baptist Church was organized in 1921 as an independent congregation with 73 founding members. In 1940, the church purchased the Drish House from the City of Tuscaloosa for $4,000.00. Services began there in 1942. The two year interim was spent altering the house to fit the needs of its new owners. The Drish House was transformed once again.
The Baptist church did not allow ornamentation, so the elaborate plasterwork was ripped away. The walls separating the cross hall from the double parlors were removed so that the newly enlarged space could be used as a sanctuary. The wide heart pine floors were replaced with narrow oak planking. The dining room was converted into a church kitchen, with an original door cut in half to become a ‘Dutch’ door to allow for serving food. In the kitchen, the wood floors were covered in linoleum and a door was fitted into the former dining room window.
The interior of the upper story was completely gutted and rearranged into a dozen small Sunday School rooms around the perimeter of the floor. The ceilings were dropped with the installation of acoustic tile and fluorescent lighting was installed.
The few remaining shutters were removed from the exterior of the house, along with the bulk of the brackets and trim. Even the columns were re-plastered to remove their delicate fluting. Only the top of the tower was left untouched. The six-over-six windows were removed and replaced with large paned two-over-two windows. Dr. Drish would have been shocked at the changes to his former home, but he would have been pleased to meet its new occupants.
I have enjoyed hearing from some of the former congregants of Southside Baptist Church; they have such heartwarming memories. Some are found at http://www.facebook.com/…/remembering-southside-baptist-…
It seems to have been a wonderful church with amazing people and a deep spiritual life. To me, this community of Christians seems underserved in the documented history of the Drish House and I would like to change that. If you were a member of Southside Baptist I would love to have you share your stories or photos!