HISTORY OF NORRIS LAKE
by Bill Gruber
Norris Lake began as a swampy area with a wagon road winding down through the forest to Highway 124 which was then an unpaved road. Mr. Clarence Norris excavated the land, piling the dirt into a hill where the tennis courts now stand. An ice house was built near the dam and water was supplied to the community for $10.00 per home, payable every there months. The well was the property of Col. Smith.
In the Mid 20th Century, the lake and surrounding area was purchased by Mr. Al Corkin, owner of a Boston, Massachusetts firm. He developed the area into a residential community. It is interesting to note that Mr. Corkin designated three lots upon which a church was to be constructed. Three adjacent lots were purchased and the Norris Lake Presbyterian Church now stands on this site.
A covered boat house stood behind the clubhouse by the present-day boat dock. Only a large cement slab remains today of the wooden boat house. There were several uncovered boat slips located along the bank of Norris Lake Road just past the old boat ramp. Use of the old boat ramp was discontinued years ago but the ramp is still visible just past the bridge. Discontinued also was the wooden guard shack that used to stand at the entrance of the subdivision.
The community was later developed further by Mr. Steve Freedman. He subsequently transferred ownership of all common property to the homeowner's association.
The original swimming pool was filled in and a toddlers' playground now stands on the site. The new pool, located across Lake Drive, opened May 23, 1998 with a party to celebrate the event held on May 30, 1998.
My thanks to Mr. Jerry Roberts and Mrs. Carris Crowfoot for help with this article.
THE STORY BEHIND THE CHURCH WHICH GRACES
THE ENTRANCE TO NORRIS LAKE
By Carris Crowfoot
All who commute to Norris Lake pass Norris Lake Presbyterian Church behind the grassy knoll on their right before they take the curve to see that beloved body of water spread out to the left.
The church and this lake community have grown up together.
During the early 50's, as we have mentioned in previous columns, Norris Lake was purchased by Mr. Al Corkin of Massachusetts for residential development.
Mr. Corkin kindly designated three lots for church development. Mary and Hoyt Glasure secured the lots for a Presbyterian church. With others also interested, they purchased three additional lots for $6,000 and began building.
The church completed, there were 23 charter members sitting in the pews listening to the founding message of The Rev. Dr. Wallace M. Alston, Sr. on that October day (the 25th), 1964. At that time, Dr. Alston was still president of Agnes Scott College, but he fell in love with this place as you will see. Mrs. Hoyt Glasure (from whom I was able to glean most of this early history) played the piano for that first service.
The first minister was The Rev. Robert V. Sturdivant. One of the first Sunday School teachers in the church was Josephine Young, who loved and impacted that community in such a way that now as I mention her name, many whose lives she touched will recall her face fondly and respectfully. At eighty, she was an active worker in the church. She used her influence to encourage the church to stay in the community when it was invited to join the new Centerville Presbyterian Church. She rejoiced that the doors of Norris Lake Presbyterian Church remained open, for she strongly believed that the presence of the church and its ministry made a difference in the atmosphere of the community. Thus, the little church still stands at the gateway of this community as a beacon to all who enter, seeing its steeple pointing to God.
The church steeple was added about ten years ago due to the efforts of Beverly Kimble, whose family has been a part of the church for many years. A new side drive was added about the same time to facilitate the elderly and the handicapped. I can still see Dr. Alston and Madaline assisting Caroline Bourney, a neighbor who suffered from a stroke, to church on Sunday mornings. Caroline and her husband, Leonard Bourney, retired naval commander, still miss and speak of the Alstons.
After his retirement from Agnes Scott College, Dr. Wallace Alston and Madaline moved to Norris Lake where he enjoyed ministering in the church - teaching, performing weddings and other ceremonies. Madaline was the pianist for a number of years.
After Dr. Alston's death, Madaline had his library moved to the church, where it has been dedicated as The Wallace Alston Memorial library and is open to the public.
About this time, the interior of the church was remodeled to make room for the library and to create a study for the new minister, Rev. Joyce Anne Rife, the church's first full-time minister. She followed the Rev. Tom Sizemore, who came as an interim minister and stayed for five years. His Sunday Morning stories to the children will be especially remembered.
The church has open arms to and welcomes the community to share in their worship and ministry. Many invitations are circulated to the community for seasonal programs. One of the newest services to the community is the church's preschool.
Norris Lake Presbyterian Church remains an integral part of our community. While reflecting on its rich heritage and the vision of its founders, we pray its future history continues to be blessed with a full and fruitful ministry to God's glory and that the church will always be a beacon of hope to those searching for the truth that God revealed to us in Christ.
Acknowledgement: For the church's more recent history details, I referred to the N.L.P.C. brochure published a few years ago.