Church gone; memories remain
By MIKE HUGHES
Times Leader News Editor
BRIDGEPORT The parcel of land at 437 National Rd. in Bridgeport now sits empty as the building previously occupying the grounds was torn down a few weeks ago.
It sits near the intersection of National Rd. and the overpass connecting Howard St. to National Rd.
No doubt you’ve passed it in recent weeks, not paying mind to the building as it was demolished. Just another older building in the Ohio Valley falling victim to the wrecking ball.
But every building has a story and this one is no different.
It’s full of history and memories, some still vividly etched into a native daughter of the Ohio Valley whom has long since moved westward.
The building used to be known as the Nondenominational Pentecostal Church.
It was built in by its original pastor, the Rev. Ross Rolls Fowler, who began services in 1917. In three years, the church would have been a 100-year-old historical building.
Fowler passed away on Jan. 18, 1938. The building adjacent to the church functioned as its homestead.
It was then Elder Raymond Judson took up the pulpit as the church’s pastor, where he tended to his flock until his retirement in 1976.
“The Bridgeport Pentecostal Church, as people often referred to it, was my life and I will always thank the Lord for it,” said Kate Campbell.
“I felt my heart drop a few weeks ago when I heard our church had been torn down. The building is now gone, but the memories remain.
“We had God filled, Holy Ghost services and I would not trade my growing up years in the church for anything.
“The sounds of worshiping god, wonderful music and singing, miraculous healings and fire-up preaching still ring in my ears.”
Campbell spent much of her youth inside the church, which originally was listed as being located at 406 National Rd.
Growing up on Howard St., Campbell had to walk across the former Stop 6 Bridge to clean the church.
She still remembers the sound of laughter and her broom and mop handles tapping against the pews from assisting the church staff in cleaning up the hardwood floors.
She remembers during the summer months, evangelists from as far away as Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky would hold revivals at the church.
Even the walk to church brings back memories for Campbell.
The bridge was made from railroad ties and when the hot sun beat down on the bridge, the smell of oil from the wood was strong. That smell walking across the Stop 6 bridge is still etched into Campbell’s memory.
no air conditioning, hand fans by funeral homes
No, the Nondenominational Pentecostal Church is no longer standing in the village of Bridgeport. It’s just another empty parcel of land, waiting to be reused.
But the memories therein and the life lessons those who attended the church carried with them will never fade away.
Hughes may be reached online at firstname.lastname@example.org