March 2, 2023
After a picture o/f Superior's United Presbyterian Church building was published on a social media site, several readers have asked this newspaper why the apparently large and elaborate building was torn down.
It was razed to make way for the construction of the federal building which now houses the United States Post Office on the northeast corner of Fourth and Commercial but we have been unable to find why. Some suspected the building may have been damaged by a fire or it may have had structural problems. Upkeep was probably a costly endeavor.
Thus far I have found no indication the post office department invoked eminent domain to claim the site. I'm not even sure the post office had such authority, however, many government agencies do have such power.
Before the current post office building was built, the office was located in rented quarters. One of those locations was the building at Third and Commercial now occupied by the Masonic Lodge. For a time C. E. Dedrick, the founder of the Superior Express, was also postmaster. The Express archives contain the offical certificate of his appointment. The post office next door location was handy for The Express crew. On mailing day, as the papers were addressed, they were carried next door by the armload. It was not necessary to sort them into delivery order, bundle by route and box by town as is now required.
The First United Presbyterians were one of three religious groups in early Superior to include Presbyterian in their name. I suspect all three groups had different doctrinal positions but I haven't determined all the differences,
The earliest mention of a United Presbyterian Church I have found indicates two families arrived in Superior in 1884 and began holding services in the building at 505 East Third Street which was also the home of the Methodist church. In 1889, after the Methodists had moved to their current building located at the southeast corner of Fifth and Kansas, the United Presbyterians bought the Third Street building. After the Presbyterians, the Third Street building housed St. Joseph's Catholic Church. When the Catholic congregation moved into a new building on California Street, the Third Street building was converted into a residence.
In 1900, the United Presbyterians began construction of the elaborate church building at Fourth and Commercial. The first service was held in the new building on Aug. 31, 1902.
On March 27, 1933 the Fourth Street location was sold to the United States Post Office Department for $11,500. A location was purchased in North Superior for the construction of a new building.
On Aug. 7, 1933, the dismantling of the church building began. A new building would be constructed at 855 Dakota. That brick veneered wooden structure utilized some of the wood and the stain glass windows salvaged from the original building. The new building was dedicated in a service which spanned two days in July of 1934.
Ten years later, on Nov. 11, 1944, the building was sold to what we now know as Centennial Lutheran. With the sale of their Dakota Street building, the United Presbyterian Church ceased to be part of Superior.
Superior's first congregation to include the name Presbyterian, was the Reformed Presbyterian which was organized in 1881. That congregation also shared space for a time at Third and Bloom with the Methodist congregation. Though none remain, there was a Reformed Presbyterian Church northwest of Superior in a community known as Beulah, and two in Northern Jewell County, one in the community of Stueben and one in the Olive Hill Community.
In 1886 the Reformed Presbyterians purchased a building located at Fifth and Central. It was extensively remodeled and a bell tower and pitched roof added. The building had been owned by Nuckolls County School District 11 and used to house Superior's first high school.
But by the 1930s, there was a problem with that location. The Hill Oil Company had located a service station across the street on a portion of the space now occupied by Home Federal Bank. The business was known as the Super Service and it apparently enjoyed a good tire repair business. In the summer days before air conditioning members of the congregation found the noise of tire repair operations interfered with their worship services. In those days tire repairmen utilized sledge hammers, wedges and other hand tools. The clang and ringing of the tire tools likely echoed throughout the downtown.
The Reformed Presbyterians sold their location at Fifth and Central to Jack Galbreth, the local movie theater operator. Galbreth shortly thereafter sold his theaters and the lot to the Commonwealth company that built the theater now known as the Crest.
The Reformed Presbyterian Church was moved to the southwest corner of Fifth and Bloom. When the congregation disbanded, the building was sold to a new congregation known as the Grace Community Evangelical Free Church. That congregation continues to meet there.
The only surviving Presbyterian congregation, the group now known as the First Presbyterian Church, was organized in 1879. The congregation's first church building was a frame structure located at 539 Central. It was built in 1883. The present brick structure was built at 549 Central in 1922 and the pipe organ added in 1923.
The wooden structure at 539 Central was dismantled. The plan was to use the salvaged wood in the construction of several houses.
A two-story house south of the church building served as the parsonage. Before the current educational wing was added about 60 years ago, the house was moved into Jewell County and located at the northeast corner of Cedar Road and Highway 14. It remains there today and has had at least seven owners.