Imagine if Billy Graham ever came to Monroe for a revival. Back in 1895, the Methodists had that level of a national revivalist. His name was Sam P. Jones, and he was planning on coming to Monroe. I had never heard about this preacher before, until I looked at a Sanborn map from 1898. (You can see it here: https://www.loc.gov/resource/g4014mm.g033681898/?sp=8&st=image&r=-0.315,0.397,1.188,0.686,0 )
On Grammont Street, between Jackson and Catalpa, and in the middle of the block, was a building marked “Sam Jones Tabernackle [sic] (Dilapidated, not used.)”. You had the Presbyterian church on one side and the foundation of St. Matthews on the other side. The next Sanborn maps, done in 1903, it was gone. Apparently, many places he preached, residents built him large auditoriums to preach in. New Orleans even had a Sam Jones Tabernacle! Here is what I found about his effects on Monroe:
Natchitoches Populist, Sept. 28, 1894, page 1
He Will Wake Up the Sinners in Monroe.
The news says: “There will be a Sam Jones Tabernacle in Monroe. Mr. Jones will open his campaign here on the 4th day of November next, and it is said he will give us a visit annually thereafter. The people belonging to the evangelical denominations have agreed to construct a building in Monroe that will give a seating capacity of about 400. The location has not yet been agreed upon, but it will be in the center of the city and convenient to the general public.”
Can you imagine having a huge building built just so someone can come preach? Later state papers say he was too sick to come in November but his assistant came and preached several sermons. I don’t know if he ever came to Monroe.
By 1897, I found a state paper that said the Tabernacle was being used for a makeshift “Opera House” because the main one had burned. It was too big though. They were about to tear the building down.
To read a little about him, there is a short article on Wikipedia here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samuel_Porter_Jones#Evangelistic_career .
Now for the good stuff. I never would have thought I would see a picture of this building. In late January I was rummaging around on the Internet Archives (SUCH an awesome site!) and found that they had digitized his book, “Thunderbolts”, published in 1895. Among the illustrations was an interior and an exterior shot of the building! WOW!