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Sunday, September 08, 2013

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Billy Jones

I grew up in that church. One of my earliest memories is of the pastor showing the congregation artists renderings of what the new addition to the left of the building would look like from a huge easel at the front of the santurary. I went to Bessemer Jr High across the street. Used to play at Bessemer Community Center behind the church. What would you like to know about Bessemer?

What I don't know I know someone who does. The church has a small museum of its own inside-- lots of history there going back to the days of the Holts Chapel Methodist Church from which it was founded.

By the way, the graveyard on Holts Chapel Road (Behind Great Stops on East Market) is what remains of Holts Chapel Methodist Church and still belongs to Bessemer United Methodist Church.

My mother still attends Bessemer UMC toady where she has been a board member for at least 40 years. Currently there are 4 separate congregations there, 2 hispanic, 1 African-American and the few remaining survivors of Bessemer.

The community has undergone an effort by the City of Greensboro to erase it from memory since 1957. Instead of calling it Bessemer city officials refer to it as East Greensboro and yet communities on the west side of town annexed that same year are still referred to by their original names.

This is because the City doesn't like to talk about the fact that prior to annexation, Bessemer was a thriving community that was broken by things like the bulldozing of over 3 miles of East Market Street-- Bessemer's main commercial corridor-- immediately after annexation in order to reduce competition for Downtown.

Maps of the Bessemer Improvement District indicate that Bessemer extended from White Street south to McConnell Road as far east as Ward Road and as far west as Summit Ave and Murrow Blvd were it intermingled with several other Greensboro neighborhoods and was named for Bessemer Ave which I believe was named for the Bessemer Steel Process plant that was attempted and failed at the location that later became Revolution Mill.

My home is the next to the last home on the Bessemer Improvement water and sewer line next to what was once the Holt Dairy Farm. East of that was another forgotten community known as Edgeville which was built from surplus materials removed from ORD and generally accepted as being a part of both Bessemer and East White Oak.

Janis & David

As always,Billy Jones, thank you for sharing! I wish you would write a book on Bessemer City!

Billy Jones

Beginning on the 25th I will be writing a regular column for a new paper, the Greensboro Free Press. In it will be quite a bit of the history of Bessemer mixed with local politics. It has turned out to be very interesting research.

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