David Broyles Staff Writer
November 30, 2013
ROCKFORD —The Rockford Preservation Society is offering harried holiday shoppers a chance to slow down and reflect a bit on the season.
According to Society Spokesperson Hannah Holyfield, the group is inviting the public to its annual Candlelight Christmas celebration on Dec. 5 and 6 at 7:30 p.m. in the historic 1914 Rockford Methodist Church. Shuttle service will be available beginning at 6:30 p.m. from Rockford Baptist Church parking lot.
“It’s so well attended,” said Holyfield. “We have well over 100 people every night. People love the old country church. This is one reason we expanded the service into a two-night event. It’s a beautiful service and we’re going to continue it as long as we can.”
Dr. Gena Poovey, professor of music at Limestone College in Gaffney, S.C., will lead the programs. The Thursday night program will feature Gene Anderson and Reel Shady; Kelsey Stanley, a Limestone College student; Janet Pyatt, musician; the Surry Central High School Chorus directed by Teresa Beshears; and a performance where Poovey will be accompanied by Pyatt.
The Friday night program will feature Poovey accompanied by Norma Johnson with the Marshall Brothers and High Road, Ashley Godwin and Devin Matthews, Kelsey Stanley, Steve Fussell, and Janet Pyatt. Music on both nights ranges from classical to bluegrass.
Holyfield said this is the 23rd year of Candlelight Christmas in Rockford and said one goal of the service is to be a wonderful way for families to start the Christmas season. Admission is free with donations accepted.
The 1850 Davenport Gallery will be open before and after the programs on Thursday and Friday evenings for early Christmas shopping. Information supplied by Holyfield indicates the gallery features local artists. It is located in the Historic Village of Rockford a short distance down Rockford Road from the Rockford Methodist Church.
According to literature from the Society, the 1914 church was built on a lot obtained from Dr. Daniel Holcomb with men from the community donating logs, lumber and labor for the building’s construction.
The Women’s Society purchased the pews from the old Centenary Methodist Church on Liberty Street in Winston-Salem. In 1967, the Rockford Methodist Church was closed by the Methodist Conference. The property was donated to the Rockford Preservation Society Inc. in 1984. Since then the church has been restored and maintained through grants and donations.
In 1989, artist Tony Griffin was commissioned to paint the fresco titled “Come Unto Me” which was dedicated in a ceremony as part of Rockford’s Bicentennial celebration. Griffin is a native of Monroe, who moved with his family to Florence, Italy at the age of 12 where he attended the American School of Florence and apprenticed under his brother-in-law, internationally recognized portrait and fresco painter Ben Long.
The Rockford Methodist Church now serves as a community center. The society sponsors two annual programs, the Candlelight Christmas in Rockford, and the Memorial Day Service. The church is also used for society meetings and fund raising events and is open to local schools as part of their art appreciation programs.
Holyfield said work is also planned on the 1830 Mark York Tavern and the Circa 1800 Rockford Masonic Lodge so they may opened to the public.
The town of Rockford was established by legislative act in 1789 and served as the county seat of Surry County until 1850. Surry County, at that time, encompassed present day Yadkin County. Rockford was also as a commercial center with hotels, taverns, and retail stores. Early craftsmen in the town included a blacksmith and tinsmith as well as a forge and tannery.
From 1890 and through the early 1900’s, Rockford had a resurgence of activity with the coming of the Northwestern North Carolina Railroad. The railroad being the chief carrier of passengers, freight, and mail, Rockford resurfaced as a commercial center. The village boasted three general stores and tobacco factory.
Eventually, the county seat was moved to Dobson and the town of Rockford lost much of its prominence. The decline of the railroad greatly impacted commercial and industrial enterprises.
Persons who would like more information on the service or the society may contact Holyfield at 336-374-3825 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.
Reach David Broyles at email@example.com or 336-719-1952.