More than half a century ago, there was an abandoned chapel without a congregation near the Green River Plantation and a congregation without a church in Tryon's historic Eastside neighborhood.
The marriage of these two churches, St. Andrew's Chapel and Good Shepherd Episcopal Church, resulted in a story of historic preservation The chapel's inner walls are the original unpainted boards from when the structure was built across the road from Green River Plantation around 1906.
Mary Mills Coxe reportedly had it built for “colored servants and others,” some of whom may have descended from slaves in the area.
When the Diocese of Western North Carolina approved it being moved to Tryon in 1955, it had to be cut into four pieces and driven about 20 miles, from out in the county near the Rutherford county line into downtown Tryon.
That was a big day on the highway and in the community,” said Beryl Dade, whose own history coincides with that of the church from its earliest days as a school for African-American children.
The church was driven along the Eastside's narrow, winding roads to a site on Markham Road left vacant when the old structure, which was built around 1907 as a mission school and had deteriorated, was torn down.
The handmade pews, altar rail and stained glass windows are all original. A vestibule was added to the front of the church, and there have been additions to the back over the years, including a parish hall, bathrooms and classrooms.
There is, of course, now electricity for the lights and ceiling fans that were added. Other than that, the building retains a primitive charm.
Born into the church and with a family history that goes back even further, Dade acted as historian for the church and continued its educational mission until her death in 2016.
Good Shepherd has always had an educational connection.Mabel Plaisted, a Tryon woman who moved from Maine, established the first local school for African-American children in the 1890s. Later Edmund Embury, a member of Holy Cross Episcopal Church in Tryon, donated land, the site of the present-day church, and a building.When it began as a mission school.
— Tryon Industrial Colored School — Dade's grandfather, Scotland Harris, was its first teacher, aided by his wife, Mary. By 1907, there were 100 African-American boys and girls there studying carpentry, masonry, cooking and sewing, along with English and math. Harris taught and acted as principal for 11 years, long enough that he began to be called “Professor Harris,” Dade said.In 1908 the building was officially became a missionary chapel of the Episcopal Missionary District of Asheville (Diocese of Western North Carolina).A conflict arose
when Harris was invited to a service at Tryon's Holy Cross Episcopal Church. Harris' presence among the white congregation prompted the diocese to ask him to leave his teaching
position at the mission school, Dade said. It was mentioned also, she said, that his “stately home” in the Eastside gave African-Americans the wrong idea about what they might aspire
The next phase of the church's history as an educational institution in the community was the “Radway Years,” as Dade called them. Beginning in 1922, the Rev. Samuel Radway from
Florida ran it as a boarding and day school, providing religious services as well. When he died in 1935, his widow and daughter kept it running another year until African-American students were allowed into the public school system. Members of the church still used the building for worship. As a missionary church, it was subsidized by the diocese. In the
early 1940s, it served students once again for a few years after the public school building burned. Dade's mother, Helen Harris Hannon, the daughter of Scotland and Mary Harris,
meanwhile became a teacher herself, and in 1967 opened a kindergarten at Good Shepherd, as there was not yet one in the public school system. Like her mother and grandparents
before her, Dade too became a teacher.