The Baptist Parsonage on Cedar Street

The Ray and Lena Gilpatrick home on East Cedar Street in Livingston once served as the parsonage for First Baptist Church.


Today's featured home is owned by Ray Gilpatrick and wife Lena (Ward) Gilpatrick, and is located at 214 East Cedar Street, Livingston. The home was originally built for Mrs. Mary Talbot Vaughn Lansden, widow of James T. Lansden. Mr. and Mrs. Lansden were the parents of Mary Blanche Lansden Davis, wife of Clarence Davis of Livingston. Ervin Roberts built the home for Mrs. Lansden in the 1940's. The home was sold to First Baptist Church for a parsonage in the early ‘50s. Mary Lou Stewart, wife of Clarence Stewart, who was the pastor of First Baptist Church from1957 until 1964, shares some memories of living in that home. Mary Lou writes:

"The little house on Cedar Street seemed spacious to us in comparison to the cramped apartment we left behind in Seminary Village, an apartment complex at the Southern Baptist Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. We lived there while Clarence was in seminary, and during that time, our family grew from one child to three children, so it was really packed by the time we left. In reality, the parsonage on Cedar Street was a rather small structure. On the main floor, there was the living room (no foyer), large kitchen, one bath, and two small bedrooms, with a little hallway connecting all but the front bedroom. The kitchen was also the dining area, but it had a real plus, especially for the 1950’s—there was a dishwasher! The back porch was enclosed and laundry facilities were there. Upstairs were two rooms under the sloping eaves; we used one for an office and the other as a child’s bedroom.

The house was heated by electric wall heaters and was not insulated. Before our second winter there, the church had the house insulated. They had discovered that our heating bill each month of the first winter had been equivalent to one week’s salary.

Our neighbor was Mr. Horace Speck, member and deacon at First Baptist Church. He was such a dear man and a very good neighbor. His ample garden separated our two houses, and he loved to share the yield of his crops with his pastor’s family. We moved to Livingston in June 1957. During the spring of that year, while the parsonage was unoccupied, Mr. Horace had planted sweet potatoes in about two-thirds of the very large back yard. He gave away sweet potatoes all over town that summer. We definitely were not gardeners, so the yard subsequently became a playground for our children.

Because the church was often not heated or cooled between services, our home was essentially the church office, too. Many times I had to quickly clear toys and games from the living room to prepare it for an unexpected wedding. It was not uncommon to also become the official witness. Our house was often the stopping-place of people "passing through Livingston" who needed some kind of financial help or food. The church eventually set up a benevolence fund to help with that problem.

We think the home was purchased about the time Jim Adkins was pastor. He showed up in our yard one day, examining the little tree that had been planted when he lived there.

The house was sold in October 1964, with plans to build a new pastorium at the site of the new church. When First Baptist Church, Pulaski called us, we had just moved into a rental home while awaiting the construction of the new house.

When we moved to Cedar Street in 1957, our children were 5 ½ , 1 ½ , and 6 months. When we left, they were 13, 8, and 7. The little house on Cedar Street witnessed some precious growing-up years. It holds many sweet memories for us."

Ray Gilpatrick, a retired teacher with the Overton County school system, and wife Lena are both graduates of Hilham’s Fisk Academy. They bought and moved into the home on Cedar Street in October of 1964. Anyone passing their home can tell from the outward appearance that folks who live there spend a lot of time caring for both the inside and the outside of their home. The home and yard always has a well cared for and manicured look about it. During the spring and summer months, Ray can be found tending to his garden at the back of the house. Visiting with the Gilpatricks recently brought back a lot of memories of occasions I was there when the Stewarts occupied the home. It seems that in some homes, the atmosphere does not change, even though the owners are different people. That same sense of warmth and welcome remains in the Gilpatrick home just as much as when the Stewart family was there so many years ago.