Next week’s meeting of a historic preservation organization will feature a rare chance to see inside the George Jones Memorial Baptist Church in west Oak Ridge, a property listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
The Oak Ridge Heritage and Preservation Association’s monthly membership and public meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 12. It includes a field trip to the former Wheat community and the George Jones Memorial Baptist Church and cemetery, which is located off Blair Road, near the former K-25 site, which is now known as the Heritage Center.
“A program will be offered inside the church that will provide a good overview of the history of the Wheat community, and the sacrifice made by their residents during the World War II Manhattan Project,” a press release said.
Bonita Irwin, a former resident of the area, will be on hand to share her documents, photos, and memories of growing up in Wheat, a community rich in history, the release said. Irwin is renowned for her historical knowledge of the details about Wheat.
Wheat was one of the communities displaced when Oak Ridge and its three giant federal facilities—K-25, Y-12, and X-10—were quickly built during World War II to help enrich uranium for the world’s first atomic weapons as part of the top-secret Manhattan Project.
The release said ORHPA members and visitors may want to come early and visit the cemetery before the meeting. The program will begin at 6:30 p.m., earlier than normal. Those who want to carpool can meet at the ORHPA’s building, the Midtown Community Center (Wildcat Den), located on the Oak Ridge Turnpike at the corner of Robertsville Road, and travel to the Wheat church. Suggested carpools leave no later than 6 p.m.
The ORHPA said it hopes to spread understanding of Wheat and other early communities of the area and encourage attendance to the Wheat Homecoming, which is held on the first Sunday of October and hosted by the Wheat Alumni Association.