COVINGTON - The old parsonage used by Salem United Methodist Church, having sat vacant and vandalized for years, is being lovingly restored by Alvin and Roland Vaughn.
The parsonage, built in the 1960s, sits adjacent to the historic Salem Camp Ground. It is located on more than an acre of land initially donated to the church by the Salem Camp Ground Board of Trustees.
With the church no longer in need of the three-bedroom, ranch-style home, the Vaughn brothers, both longtime members of the Board of Trustees, have purchased it and deeded it back to the campground.
They will use it as a "tent" during this year's Camp Meeting, set for July 10-17, and it will also serve as headquarters for the Vaughn Family Foundation, which contributes to charitable organizations.
"All the existing tents out there are owned by the campground," Alvin Vaughn said of the approximately 20 buildings that are more like cabins and serve as residences for attendees of Camp Meeting and other events held at Salem. "Different people have built them and made improvements, but they are actually owned by the campground. We plan to use it for our personal use and the campground could also use it if there is overflow from the hotel on other retreats and things scheduled throughout the year."
Work on the parsonage is ongoing: It had been badly vandalized, the water pipes stripped, the air conditioning unit gutted and electrical wires ripped out of the attic.
A fence has been placed around the building for security. The floor, heating and air conditioning and plumbing have been replaced, along with the kitchen cabinets, and a screened-in porch has been added in back.
Plans are also in the works for a meditation garden that will connect to the campground via a pathway. Vaughn said he envisions a pavilion and small chapel there where smaller events can take place.
The Vaughns are funding the repairs to the parsonage, which they hope will honor their parents and grandparents, longtime supporters of Salem Campground. Their father is the late Clarence Vaughn Jr., a former Rockdale County Superior Court judge and state legislator. He served as chairman of the Board of Trustees at Salem for 25 years.
"We want to make it a memorial to our parents and grandparents. We've accumulated some pictures that we plan to put inside and make it a shrine to the people who participated," Vaughn said.
Crystal Tatum can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.