News From Terre Haute, Indiana

February 15, 2014

Historical Treasure: Handcarved pulpit part of ‘Old Time Religion’ exhibit

Marylee Hagan
Special to the Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — This beautifully carved pulpit or podium stands proud in the latest exhibit at the Historical Museum. It is a part of “That Old Time Religion,” a retrospect of the early religious history of Terre Haute and Vigo County.

A plaque on the podium reads, “Hand carved eagle pulpit made by A.D. Thompson of wood from the First Terre Haute Methodist Church built in 1895 — presented by Trinity United Methodist Church, November, 1971.” A small plate embedded in the base of the pulpit reads, “Alfred D. Thompson. As the plaque notes, the podium was donated to the Historical Museum in 1971.

Alfred Thompson, an Englishman, made his living as a carpenter and cabinetmaker. He is first listed in the Terre Haute City Directory in 1912. The last listing of him appeared in the 1956 Directory. It is not known when he carved the podium.

The Terre Haute First Methodist Church was built in 1895 and was located at Seventh and Poplar streets. How it came to be in the possession of the Trinity United Methodist Church is a history mystery. That church became a part of the Northside Community United Methodist Church at 1075 N. Fruitridge Ave., which is now the north campus of Mount Pleasant United Methodist Church.

I like to imagine this beautiful work of art presiding over countless sermons and occasions during its “church life.” In its life at the museum it often presides at various events and programs for the Historical Society, adding an elegant touch to each occasion.

You will find it and many other mementoes from the religious fabric of our community in this interesting exhibit.