It happened in a little North Carolina town called Swanquarter. It was there that a building got up and moved. And here is how it happened.

A group of the town's citizens decided that they needed a new church building. The committee located the perfect land to build on, right on Main Street.

The property was owned by Sam Saddler, one of the richest but stingiest men in town. When the group asked him to donate the land, he told them in no uncertain terms to look for another location.

Later the churchmen were offered a piece of land on a small side street. Although tucked out of the way and not too suitable, it was free, so the group accepted.

They could only manage to scrape up enough money to build a one-story wooden frame church on brick pilings. They had no money for pews or stained-glass windows.

The Sunday after the church was completed the congregation held a dedication service. During the service a storm began. Wind and rain whipped the area for more than 24 hours, knocking down trees and ripping roofs off houses. Swanquarter was a disaster!

Water overflowed Pimlico Sound and flowed into surrounding creeks and rivers. The town was flooded and some streets were covered by more than five feet of water.

At this point the amazed residents saw the little church start to float down the street. The men valiantly tried to hold it with ropes tied between trees, but the ropes snapped like string.

The church reached an intersection, stopped briefly, and then a few minutes later resumed its journey and turned right on Main Street. After floating a few hundred yards, it suddenly veered to the left and settled down on an empty lot.

Sam Saddler's empty lot!

When the storm ended the next day, the sun shone and the streets began to dry up. The people in the town congregated near the church and talked excitedly about the miracle. They were uneasy, however, and wondered what Sam Saddler would have to say. And they didn't have long to wait. A few days later when the Register of Deeds opened his office, Saddler was the first man waiting to see him.

The church reached an intersection, stopped briefly, and then

Saddler ordered a deed made out to the church and requested one that could never be taken away. He said, "Let them call it a Christmas present if they wish. I've had one warning and I don't want another one."

Later the group was able to raise some money and tried to pay Sam Saddler something for such a valuable piece of land, but he refused to take a nickel.

By 1907 the membership had outgrown the little wooden church, so the congregation decided to build a brick church on the same site. Eventually the old building was attached to the rear of the new church and used as an educational building.

It is all on record in the Swanquarter courthouse, and the sign still stands at the front of the church on Main Street:

The Providence Church
The place which the Lord thy God
hath chosen--Deut. XII.

The Church That Wouldn't Stand Still
, Blanche Richardson, Guide, Vol 24, No 51, December 22, 1976, pp. 10,11.

Stephen Buckley
Last revised: 30 Sep 2011.