The beginning…It is from the Disciples of Christ Movement that the Christian Church of Nocona was founded in 1888 when the town was one year old. The community, thriving on the railroad, agriculture, and the leather industry, had among it’s early settlers a saddle maker named Marmaduke F. Smith, who moved his family from Savoy, Texas, where he ran a saddle shop and was Postmaster. He moved his family to Nocona in 1888 and set up his saddle business, also serving as Postmaster. Probably Smith’s move to Nocona was motivated more by his desire to establish a Church than by his desire to make saddles or serve as Postmaster. It was under his leadership that the First Christian Church of Nocona (later changed to Central Christian Church) was founded in February of 1888 in the J.M. Odom Building on Clay Street, with Smith serving as the Church’s first Minister. Brother Smith served as the Church’s Minister until 1892. He remained in the Church as an Elder until his death in 1895. Brother Smith is buried in the Nocona Cemetery.
Historical timeline…Marmaduke F. Smith, who served as the church’s first minister, founded the church in February 1888 when Nocona was only a year old. Services were originally held in the J.M. Odom Building on Clay Street. The first church building was erected on the present location in 1890. The back walls of the “box-like” church building had to be knocked out in order to accommodate the large crowds of a revival held in 1892. Additional lots were purchased in 1893. Construction of a new building was started in 1894 by Rogers Brothers and R. Chenowith. In order to complete the building in 1895, $5,000 was borrowed from the General Christian Missionary Convention. The loan was paid in full in 1907.
A great revival was held in 1912. The church clerk reported the “largest audiences ever assembled in Nocona were seen at this meeting.” A total of 71 people joined the church with 100 present in Sunday school the last day of the meeting. A parsonage was built around 1911 on the present site of Harper Hall. This house was sold and moved in 1970, when the new parsonage was built. A lot was purchased that year for $1,000 and construction began at a cost of $15,933.00.
The Rotary Hall was constructed in 1925. The facility was to be used for Rotary meetings and church activities. It served the church for 58 years until Harper Hall was constructed in 1983
A historical medallion was presented to the church by the State Historical Survey Committee in a dedication service on December 2nd, 1962.
On June 6, 1982, ground was broken for a fellowship hall north of the sanctuary. Plans were developed by Harper-Perkins Architectural firm of Wichita Falls at a total cost of $98,299.00 and was paid in full in 1983. The building was dedicated in honor of O.C., Marie, and Bob Harper on June 26, 1983.
The church was honored in 1987 as one of the outstanding congregations in North America. The church began restoring the sanctuary to its original beauty and spaciousness in 1987. Dedication was held on October 2, 1988. Construction of a foyer linking the original sanctuary to Harper Hall was completed in 2002.
In 2019 the church will celebrate the 125th anniversary of the building of the sanctuary.
Excerpts from The First 100 Years by Jim O. Rogers, Ed.D Typed/Edited by Ray Shields Published 1988