A brief history of the College Hills Church Family

Over one hundred and seventy years have passed since Christians first worshiped at College Street. We are thankful to God for the blessing of this long heritage of faith, love, service and devotion.  In 2003, we celebrated our 167 year in Lebanon and our first in the new facility on Leeville Pike.

The College Hills Church of Christ, formerly known as College Street Church of Christ and known originally as the Lebanon Christian Church, first assembled in the old courthouse in the middle of the town square in 1836 with about nineteen members. Prior to 1874, the Church met in several other 2 story log building 1875locations. The Odd Fellows Hall, Abby Institute, the Baptist Church building and finally in a two-story log building which stood at the corner of South Cumberland and Gay Streets where the old N.C. and St. L. Depot now stands. This building was owned by the Cartwright family. The Church met and worshiped there for some thirty years, after which time it moved to the College Street location.

Among the names associated with the church in Lebanon in the early years are John Maxey Goldston, Dr. G.L. Robinson, P.Y. Hill, a Mrs. Anderson and a Mrs. Cartwright who, according to Church records, was baptized in 1851. Also, among early members were Tom Mace, a Mrs. Jolly and Dr. John Tatum McFarland. Some of the early evangelists were G.L. Suber, Tolbert Fanning, E.G. Sewell, Joe Harding, and General R.M. Gano.  Nothing is known of an eldership before 1874.

General Gano held a meeting in Lebanon in 1870 when he was forty years old at which time 77 people were baptized. He returned for a second meeting in 1903. During the 1870's, "Weeping Joe" Harding was one of the leaders of the Church in Lebanon. He was in the jewelry business with Burch Goldston and he lived in a house where the Church was built on College Street. He donated the property to the Church and raised the six thousand dollars needed to build a red brick building 80' x 40'x 22' which consisted of only one room. Part of the walls of this building were incorporated in later buildings which stood until the auditorium was constructed in 1958. Eventually the Church acquired additional property, north to Gay Street, from the Cox family. The church property encompassed the site of the old Lebanon Cemetery and some of the old stones may still be found at the rear of the Fellowship Hall. This red brick building remained unchanged until 1922. The brick was made in Lebanon.

The opening service on Sunday, October 18, 1874 was attended by about forty members. The building was deeded to W.H. Brown, W.H. Bennett, Joe Harding, W.A. Carbine, A.P. Thompson, W.G. Swindle, G.L. Robinson, and W.G. Page. These men were trustees not elders. The title was transferred from trustees to Elders on June 23, 1904. The first elders were Dr. J.C. Eskew, A. Pope, and M.A. Goldston. The deed was prepared by W.R. Chambers and forbade the use of instrumental music and the employment of any missionary societies other than the Church in doing the work of the Lord. By 1904 there were 112 members. In 1905, D.T. Burton and Billy Grissom became Elders. Elders added in 1911 were Jack Bradshaw, Dr. B.S. Rhea, L.F. McFarland, and Robert L. White, who was Clerk for a number of years and from whose records much of this material was taken. In 1933, W.W. Hamblen, A.W. McCartney, Allen Barry, and O.E. Philpot became Elders. Brother McCartney served as Treasurer for many years and also as song leader.

College Street  Church Building 1948The red brick building was remodeled several times: 1922, 1925, 1949, and 1955. Eight rooms were added in 1922 and the auditorium was enlarged considerably with a new baptistry being installed.

In 1949, the structure was expanded toward College Street and the balcony was enlarged. In 1955, an educational building was added with 21 classrooms, a library, small auditorium, minister's study and some offices at a cost of $90,000. This structure occupied the site of the former M.A. Goldston home. The church acquired the property from H.M. Taylor. The Building Committee for this construction was the trio of Dr. Sam Bradshaw, Elmer Flowers, and Gene Stone. Much of the planning of the classroom areas was done by J.B. Kinney who became the local minister in 1953.

College Street  VBS 1953
In 1958, the same building committee supervised the construction of the auditorium which could seat 650. This structure was completed in 1967 with the addition of the Fellowship Hall which was later enlarged in 1990. In recent years a number of men, besides the present elders, are well remembered as Elders of College Street/College Hills: Batey Gresham, Sr., Elmer Flowers, Dr. Phillips Turner, Foster Andrews, Earl Watson, Walter Goodall, Albert Bryan, John Sweatt, Ace Lee Hill, Leonard Bradley, Kenneth O. Lester, Carl Manning, Edwin Hughes, Ken Beck, Frank Dudley, Ted Waller, Dr. Henry Farrar, Jim Andrews, Frank A. Neal Jr, and Gale Hearn.

Some of the great Gospel preachers of earlier generations held meetings at College Street, including David Lipscomb, Jesse Sewell, T.W. Brents, T.B. Larimore, L.S. White, T.Q. Martin, Hugh Clark, Horace Busby, F.W. Smith, Foy Wallace, N.B. Hardeman, and G.C. Brewer. Their meetings usually lasted from two to five weeks with services sometimes twice daily to crowds which overflowed the building.

Many distinguished men have served as located Ministers at College Street / College Hills: F.B. Srygly, C.M. Pullias, A.S. Derryberry, G.W. Farmer, John Klingman, Morgan Carter, J. Leonard Jackson, Alonzo Williams, C.L. Overturf, Oliver C. Cunningham, Thomas J. Wagner, J.B. Kinney, Ernest Highers, John T. Smithson, Paul Hunton, Hugh Fulford, Steve Botts, and Larry Locke.
College Street Building 2002
Some of our past Associate Ministers have been: Jimmy Copeland, Ken Smithson, Paul Killom, Herschel McKamey, Mike Brown, Mike George, Ken Snell, Stan Conyer, Mark Holeman, and Bruce Thweatt. 

Our current College Hills Church Ministry Staff includes:
Kevin Owen (Preaching Minister), Wilson McCoy (Associate Minister), Johnny Markham (Family Minister), Alex Sircy (Youth Minister), Hope Sampson (Children's Minister), and Darren Brown (Director of Finance & Facilities).


In December of 1993 the groundbreaking occurred for Hearthside, a premier assisted living facility for senior citizens in our community. This College Hills ministry was the culmination of ten years of planning headed by Dr. Jimmy Morris and Billy Cawthon. The initial property on West Spring Street, purchased in March of 1994, was traded for ten acres on the Castle Heights campus at the top of Hill Street. On November 20, 1994, an open house for the public revealed a very beautiful facility with interior design by Kendra Ray. Today, happy residents enjoy Hearthside under the very capable staff headed by Brian McDonald. Church services and Bible studies are conducted at Hearthside by College Hills members. (Hearthside LINK)


The first service at our Leeville Pike campus was on January 5, 2003.  
College Hills Church of Christ 2003
  College Hills Homecoming 2003