- January 26, 2011
The First Christian Church was organized around 1872 in the Old Red House community, about three miles east of Grapeland.The congregation moved to Grapeland in 1882, and in 1895 this church was erected. In 1915 the church building was moved to its present location. Some 75 years later the congregation disbanded and donated the church to the community.
I knew a man who lived his life in Lubbock, Texas, and originally came from Grapeland. My friend is Herbert Walker Leaverton. Herbert’s grandfather built the Grapeland church in 1885. Herbert told me his grandfather hand cut the shingles for the tower. I recently visited Grapeland, and I knew the shingles were cut in all kinds of shapes: squares, rectangles, and octagons. They were laid out to create a beautiful art collage on the top of the tower. Herbert said his grandfather became the minister of the church, and that he later was married to Herbert’s grandmother there. Herbert’s grandparents had 11 children, one of whom was Herbert’s mother. This little church was Herbert’s place of worship while he lived in Grapeland.
I painted this scene as a gift for Herbert for his 91st birthday, and I had the opportunity to give it to him in person at the hospital. The painting brought a smile to his face and a sparkle and a tear to his eye. He held my hand and told me the story of the church in his own words and what it meant to him. Herbert was a different kind of a man in a special and unique way. I remember early last year I received a call from Herbert on my cell phone. I heard Herbert say “I am proud of you”. That phone call was his gift to me and will always be special to me.
Herbert passed away at 6:30 am on February 22, 2011 in Lubbock, Texas. He was 91.
The painting is now with Herbert’s son in Lubbock.