A church is built on the strength—and often gumption—of its congregation. In the early 1920s, after a year or so of tent meetings, a growing group of Seventh Day Adventists managed to erect a sanctuary, the first of its denomination in Raleigh. Gethsemane Church stands at the corner of S. Person and Cabarrus Streets in the East Raleigh-South Park neighborhood of Raleigh. The vernacular, late Gothic Revival-style building boasts distinctive concrete blocks adorned with pebbled quartz. The blocks were probably made onsite. Block-making machines were affordable and widely available—you could buy one from the Sears catalog. Advertisements bragged “one man can make from 100 to 150 perfect blocks a day…and can do it day after day.”
Congregants may have made the blocks and built the church. It seems likely that an architect was involved as well. The modest building has classic Gothic Revival-style elements like buttresses and pointed-arch windows with stained glass. It has been a fixture in the East Raleigh-South Park neighborhood for nearly a century.