Pleasant Grove Camp Meeting
Methodists held their first camp meeting at Pleasant Grove in 1829 under a rough brush arbor. Eventually a larger arbor (known as a tabernacle in other locations) was constructed and permanent structures replaced the original tents. Pleasant Grove Camp Meeting is on the National Register of Historic Places. The site still holds annual camp meetings, and Pleasant Grove Methodist Church holds weekly services on the grounds.
I had included Pleasant Grove in my recent inventory of historic camp meeting locations on this website. In the Google Earth imagery it looked like Pleasant Grove had the same set-up as Indian Field and other sites Alan and I had visited.
However, this is where the similarity ends. We were used to camp meeting tents that looked more like shacks, simple structures with no electricity or indoor plumbing. A ring of outhouses were the only amenities for these.
At Pleasant Grove the “tents” looked more like vacation homes. These have power and water and are well-kept. Some are two-story cottages that look like they belong lakeside rather than on a camp. a couple were still under construction. With all of this expense, we wondered if these ever get used other than at camp meeting time.
According to the location’s website, there have been several iterations of these tents. The camp was closed for a couple of decades, and in the early 1900s all of the tents were torn down. In 1935 the camp reopened and new tents were built. It’s obvious that construction and updating is an ongoing process, despite the camp meeting being on the National Register.
That website also states that the arbor underwent extensive restoration in the late 1980s, replacing deteriorating beams and roof. Unlike the tents, the historic nature of the arbor has been preserved.
Pleasant Grove Methodist Church is a small white-framed structure on the camp meeting grounds. The church holds regular weekly services.
In line with the ring of tents was another white-framed building. This had been the Pleasant Grove School, then served as the parsonage for the church for a time.
Another concrete building could have been a dormitory, but also looked like it had cafeteria facilities.
Across the road from the camp stood a spring house with a pump. A trickle of water flowed out across the open area.
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