Our roots in Durham are deep and date back more than 100 years. On Sunday afternoons in the early 1890’s, brothers Richard and James Blacknall, both Elders in Durham’s First Presbyterian Church, along with their wives, would ride the train out to the Erwin Textile Mill village to conduct Sunday School in an abandoned barroom. By 1916 the “mission” had grown sufficiently that a frame building was constructed, and the congregation was established as a Presbyterian Church, with the Blacknall family memorialized in the name. The core of the current brick building was constructed in 1923.
Engaging with the University Community
During the 1960’s the textile mill was phased out, and the church’s focus turned to the Duke campus under the leadership of Pastor Bob Henderson. And at the height of the civil rights movement, in 1967, Blacknall became the first mainline church in Durham to integrate. To meet the needs of the growing congregation, due to the influx of Duke students and young professionals, an Education Building was added in 1964, further extensions and renovations were constructed in 1971 and 1994, and then came the major transformation of the facilities in 2006. The new additions brought offices, classrooms, and a fellowship hall and kitchen.