Westminster Expands its Mission at
3900 West End Avenue and Beyond
Although a religious education building was an urgent priority, it was necessary during World War II to continue to use the over-crowded rented house for Sunday school. In 1947, the new Education-Office Building on the west side of the sanctuary was completed. The following year the Harwell Chapel was dedicated. In 1954, the Gray house behind the church was purchased to provide additional Sunday School accommodation. In 1958, a new pipe organ was installed in the sanctuary. Two years later the Children’s Building for kindergarten and primary school classes was completed.
As the church sought to minister to the greater community, it looked for programs that could be developed to reach those outside the congregation. The church sponsored the first Protestant kindergarten in Nashville. Members of the congregation joined with other Nashville church members to open The Marketplace, a sixties-styled coffee house. Located near Centennial Park, the Marketplace attracted a diverse group of young people from all across the city. The Westminster School, organized in 1968, to serve children with learning disabilities, represented another effort to reach out to others in Nashville.
Presbyterian women have played an active part in the congregation.
Frances Merritt Keltner (Hardcastle) joined her mother, MayImre MacDonald Keltner, and her grandmother, Jessie Wilson MacDonald, in front of Westminster Presbyterian Church. (May 1940)
Westminster was built at a cost of approximately $125,000. All of this was paid before the congregation began to use the building in 1939. National Life and Accident Insurance Company held a mortgage of $20,000 which was to be paid over the next twenty years. The congregation decided to pay off its indebtedness and held this service of dedication when the debt was paid in 1945.
After World War II, Westminster opened the first Protestant kindergarten in Nashville. Under the direction of Hazel Fischer, the kindergarten was self-supporting and met in the former residence of West End which housed the Sunday School.
The Lydian Class, a Sunday school class for business women, was begun after World War II. Class members sold books to raise money for the church library.
The Church School Building was completed in 1947.
In 1948 the Harwell Chapel, designed by Edwin Keeble, was dedicated in memory of Goodrum McClure Harwell who had died as a youth.
Westminster celebrated its 80th anniversary with an extensive program and celebration. Dressed in period costumes, these women represented the various eras in the church’s history.
Lorene Sharpe White was the first woman from Westminster to be ordained by the Presbytery of Middle Tennessee.
Martha Overholser was elected to the office of elder in 1968. Shortly after Overholser’s election, Lucile Parsh and Jean Early were also elected as elders.
Rev. Patrick McGeachy launched a monthly newsletter, Words, when the session voted to discontinue providing subscriptions to the Presbyterian Survey to church members.
The Marketplace patterned after other coffee houses opened in November 1966, and provided musical entertainment. John Hartford, a regular performer at the Marketplace was joined by other professional musicians for the final concert in 1971.