Grace Episcopal Church: A Brief Look Back
Located only a half block from the Henry County Courthouse on the town square, historic Grace Church, is the oldest church building in Henry County.
Three women, Mrs. F. A. Upchurch, Mrs. J. N. Thomason, and Mrs. Thomas P. White founded Grace Church, Paris in 1894. According to records they felt "deprived and at a loss without their church, (and) decided that, if humanly possible and with God's help, the Cross of Christ would be lifted over an Episcopal Church in Paris." In 1895 a lot was purchased in downtown Paris. The original lot was enlarged through a gift from W B. Jones so that it was "wide enough for a two horse carriage to draw coal to the furnace."
The women, who were appointed Trustees by Bishop Charles Todd Quintard in 1895, "wrote hundreds of letters, asking for subscriptions, held suppers, bazaars, benefits, etc., being very grateful to the ladies of other denominations for their assistance" in an effort to raise money for the building.
In 1895, under the supervision of the three founders and with the "advice and assistance" of Mr. William Stalls, construction on Grace Church was begun. Mr. Stalls had become interested in building the church due to the "zealousness" and various "books loaned me" by the founders. The chancel was designed by Mrs. Thomason and includes seven arches. The general architectural lines of the church are similar to those of the famous `Wee Kirk 0' the Heather' at the Forest Lawn Cemetery, Hollywood, CA. Following tradition, Grace Church faces east so that the rays of the rising sun fall upon the altar.
Through the generosity of many people, historic Grace Church was completed in 1904 at a cost of $3,500. As an example of the extraordinary fund-raising efforts by the three Trustees, J. P. Morgan, the great financier, contributed $250.00 for the roof. The Church was consecrated on November 12, 1904.
In 1980 the former Capitol Theater next door was purchased. A later bequest from Nelle Ketchum allowed the loan to be paid in full. Following several renovations Ketchum Hall became the parish hall for Grace Church.
In 1998-99 a restoration of the facilities was completed restoring the historic church to its original beauty. Ketchum Hall was modified to include new administrative offices, nursery facilities and Christian education rooms. Driess-Founder's Hall, the original parish hall, became a large meeting room with kitchen. An enclosed memorial garden with a Columbarium separates the church from Ketchum Hall.
In 2013, our Tiffany window was discovered to have suffered some damage. A church - wide effort to pool resources for the cost of professional restoration to this priceless historic community treasure soon resulted in the funds needed for the restoration, which was completed in 2014.