A thin beam of light illuminates the scattered paint buckets and wooden borders lining the floor of a room at 101 N. Tenth St. The walls are white, and the concrete floor is splotched with the same hue of paint. The two doors are stained a light brown.
It appears to be a forgotten room. Soon, though, it will house mementos of the 172-year history of a Columbia institution.
The room at First Christian Church is being converted into a museum for church artifacts, documents and photos.
“It started as, ‘We have this space — now what can we do with it?’ ” said the Rev. Kenneth Watson, an associate minister at the church.
The second-floor room had been used to store old junk, Watson said. The idea arose to create a museum of church history that would showcase items such as a pulpit robe that belonged to the Rev. Clarence Lemmon, the church’s senior minister from 1930 to 1963.
“It caught the interest of the whole congregation,” Watson said.
The museum project began in April 2003 with a committee meeting. Construction since then has been slower than anticipated.
“We thought it would be done by this spring, and now it may be done by next spring,” Watson said.
Some material delays have slowed the work of contractor Reinhardt Construction — the custom doors, for instance, took 12 weeks to make. Even though the company normally works on larger contracts, it had a special interest in First Christian’s
project. The company head, Jerry Daugherty, has been a member of the church since 1970.
“That is my second home,” Daugherty said. “I will do anything for my church.”
The slowed construction has allowed First Christian extra time to look at its history.
“Most of what we’ve got is old books, written documents and photos,” Watson said. The items are in storage at the Western Historical Manuscript Collection at Ellis Library at MU.
“There’s a ton of stuff over there,” he said.
First Christian also is working with Columbia College to track down historical documents and artifacts. The college, which the church founded in 1851, has better records and more historical pieces than First Christian does.
“They’ve been very helpful to us,” Watson said. “We’ve had fun working with it.”