The Covenanter Church (c. 1913) is located at 113 N. Green Street in Stafford, Stafford County, Kansas (pop. 1400). This one-story, L-shaped building is set in a residential housing area. It is Gothic Revival in architectural style, utilizing the side-steeple church vernacular form. Minor changes to the original construction of the church’s exterior and interior include construction of 2 main floor bathrooms using part of the Overflow Room space. This same area had been made into one bath and a kitchenette (circa 1980s) The ceiling in this Overflow Room was also dropped from 14 feet to 9 feet in the 1980s. A church building (circa 1887) at the same location was torn down to allow construction of the existing building.
The wood-framed building has a moderately pitched gable roof, with overhanging eaves and narrow-lap wood siding. Its square, flat-roofed, square-towered entrance is set in the L-shaped area. Lattice-type railing around the top of this square-entrance roof area shown in the original picture was removed at some point and needs to be replaced. Some of the original trough guttering and downspouts are stored in the basement and will be reinstalled.
The structure is set on a high (48”-ground to floor level) foundation, allowing significant window exposure for natural lighting in the high-ceiling basement. This foundation is poured concrete below grade, with rusticated formed concrete masonry units set on top of the poured concrete for the above-ground exposure. Poured concrete sidewalks exist to the building from the concrete sidewalks parallel to Green Street. Grass parking exists between the street and sidewalk.
The exterior wood-framed windows on the front (east) and each side (north and south) are gothic arched center windows with regular double-hung sash windows on either side, with additional double-hung sash windows on either side of the this cluster on the north and south exposures. Most of the original Florentine glass remains, though some is cracked and other windows are boarded up or replaced with clear glass. The front entrance doors have been replaced with metal glass doors (circa 1980s), altering the main entrance door area but reusing original woodwork. A three-tab composition roof (c. 1985) exists on the main area of the building, and an original tin roofing remains on the square-entrance tower area (flat roof).
The audience room (sanctuary) appears to be unaltered. A grid drop ceiling(circa 1950-60 has been removed exposing the original 14 foot ceilings. They have been repaired and the original light fixtures have been reinstalled in the Audience Room The ceiling in the overflow area has been dropped (circa 1980s) using trusses with a sheetrock covering that has been covered with a rough stucco finish. The walls throughout the main audience room (sanctuary) are plaster with a rough stucco finish, as are all the walls of the first floor and basement.
Two ADA bathrroms have been installed on the north end of the original Overflow Room area where a bath and kitchenette has been installed in the 1980’s.
A platform (stage) area is located at the west side of the Audience Room and is raised approximately 18” above the main level. The center-stage portion extends to a depth of 10 feet, while a choir section extends to the north of the center stage and is 4 feet wide and 12 feet long. Behind the choir section is a pastor’s study, which is approximately 7x10 feet in size.
There are approximately twelve 2-foot-wide folding doors between the Audience Room and the Overflow Room. These folding doors have been restored to a functional condition and altered only to accommodate the addition of the 2 new bathrooms. The original oak pews are curved in design and are placed in a two-aisle arrangement, typical of late nineteenth and early twentieth century church design. The flooring in the first floor area is 4” wide yellow pine. The woodwork throughout the main level is yellow pine finished with amber shellac, though the woodwork in the pastor’s study is painted.
The interior basement walls are brick construction with plaster over the brick that is falling off the lower portion of the walls. The basement ceiling is original lath and plaster. The floor is poured concrete and was never finished, painted or covered. Most of the basement is open area; however, there were originally two bathrooms in the northeast area, a mechanical room/storage area along the east, and two classrooms along the south side. The north wall is supported with wood braces to stabilize the wall, and the west wall needs similar support. Research indicates that many of the doors, jams and hinges installed in the basement were salvaged from the original 1887 building. There is some water penetration into the basement during wet weather.
Original knob-and-tube wiring with fuse-style circuits make up the primary electrical system. A new 200 amp breaker box has been installed still utilizing the original fuse system for the lighting. New wiring has been added for outlets and other electrical needs.
The original light fixtures have been reinstalled in the Audience Room. Two matching light fixtures (c. 1920s-30s) have been left in the overflow area. Most of the light switches are push-button style. Two original wall-mounted light fixtures on either side of the center platform area have also been reinstalled.
The heating system was a gravity gas furnace with a blower added to create a forced-air system. Only two vents existed to distribute heat: one in the main sanctuary and one in the overflow area. A cold-air return (c. 1950s) was added with a floor grate in the northwesterly area of the main sanctuary area. The old system has been replaced with a new forced air central heat and air system.
STATEMENT OF SIGNIFICANCE
The Covenanter Church in Stafford, Kansas, is locally significant in the areas of Religion and Architecture. In the area of religion, the church is significant as the meeting place for a religious organization that maintained a close association with the community leaders of Stafford during the early 20th century as well as with the Reformed Presbyterian, or Covenanter, Church at large. It is architecturally significant as one of the few small, rural churches built in a distinctive Gothic Revival style that is
still in nearly original condition.
Religion: This site has existed as a church location since 1887, when it was purchased by the Associated Presbyterian Church, more commonly known as the Seceder Church. A church building was constructed that September and remained until the construction of the current building. In 1911, the Associated Church became the Reformed Presbyterian Church, and through several ownership transfers, the Reformed Church became the owners of the church that year. The Reformed Church congregation, one of six congregations in Stafford in 1913, met in the basement area of the new building until the remainder was completed at the end of 1913.
The dedication of the church on January 13, 1914, indicates that the Reformed Presbyterian Church, also known as the Covenanter Church, was an integral part of the community, as leaders from all segments of the community were invited and included as speakers at the dedication. Many prominent citizens lived in the surrounding residential area and attended this church over the next two decades, reinforcing its significance to the community leaders as a regular meeting place. As of 1935, four members of the Covenanter congregation had gone abroad as missionaries to China, India and Cyprus; the small community of Stafford thus influenced the world at large through the Covenanter Church and its members.
The Covenanter Church remained at the location in Stafford until 1958, when the church disbanded and was closed. All records were transferred to the Sterling, Kan. congregation. The building was later sold to the Bible Missionary Church, which functioned in the building until the mid 1990s, when it was also disbanded. The ownership then was transferred to Mr. and Mrs. Amos Sherrill, who were the last pastors of the Bible Missionary Church in Stafford.
The building and grounds were purchased by Henderson House Bed and Breakfast, LLC on January 1, 2001. Principals are Dr. Roger and Carolyn Evans and F. Clare and Nancy Moore. The building has been and will continue to be used as meeting and conference space for the retreat center portion of the operation. Because much of the retreat operation involves church-related retreats, the building is being utilized as a meeting space and religious worship facility similar to its original use.Architecture: The Gothic Revival architecture is common of churches built in small Midwestern rural communities during the early 1900s. However, very few small churches built in the distinctive Gothic Revival style still exist today, making the architecture of the Covenanter Church significant. Even fewer remain in near original condition as this structure does. Many have been closed and torn down over the years as the rural population in Kansas has continued to decline. Also significant of the Covenanter Church architecture is the unique layout of the audience room/sanctuary: narrow from front to back (six pews deep) and wide from side to side. With this construction the sanctuary seats about 125 persons in the original pews. Finally, the overall simplicity of the church’s interior architecture parallels the belief and lifestyles of those in the Reformed Presbyterian Church of Stafford.
Stafford County Republican, Dec. 22, 1887, p. 2.
Stafford County Republican, Nov. 27, 1913, p. 2.
Stafford County Republican, Jan. 15, 1914, p. 1.
Stafford Courier, Sept. 5, 1935, p. 4, sect. 2.