horses in Cades Cove

Everything You Need to Know About the Cades Cove Primitive Baptist Church

Cades Cove Primitive Baptist Church
September 8, 2023

Cades Cove is home to numerous historic structures that you can find while exploring the Cades Cove Loop Road. There are three churches you will come across, and each has its own fascinating history. One of the most interesting historic churches in Cades Cove is the Primitive Baptist Church. Here’s everything you need to know about the history of the Cades Cove Primitive Baptist Church and why you should visit this historic site.

History of the Cades Cove Primitive Baptist Church

interior of Cades Cove Primitive Baptist ChurchThe Primitive Baptist Church in Cades Cove has a long history. The Baptist denomination was first introduced to the area in 1825 by the first permanent settlers, John and Lucretia Oliver. Before building their own Baptist church, Cades Cove residents had to travel through the Smoky Mountains to attend services in other towns. These residents finally established the Cades Cove Baptist Church in 1827 so they would no longer need to travel to Sunday services. The congregation initially met in members’ homes until a log building was constructed in 1832. After some time, there became division among the congregation based on two different interpretations of scripture. One side believed that the scripture allowed for missionary work while the other did not. As a result, the Cades Cove Baptist church was split in two in 1841 to form the Missionary Baptist Church and Primitive Baptist Church. The new Primitive Baptist Church had a small congregation and met in the log structure until the existing white church building was completed in 1887.

Where to Find the Primitive Baptist Church in Cades Cove

The Cades Cove Primitive Baptist Church is the second stop you’ll reach as you travel the Cades Cove Loop Road. To get to the church, you will take a dirt side road that connects to the scenic loop road. There is a sign that points the way. This is a single-lane road, so keep an eye out for other cars coming from the opposite direction. You will reach the Primitive Baptist Church at the end of the road. You can get out and explore the church and the cemetery that surrounds it. Just keep in mind that if you park for more than 15 minutes, you’ll need to have a parking pass displayed in your vehicle.

The Primitive Baptist Church Cemetery

Cades Cove cemeteryThe Cades Cove Primitive Baptist Church cemetery is the oldest of the cemeteries in Cades Cove. It has 323 visible graves, and 293 of them are inscribed. You can find many of the prominent Cades Cove residents and early settlers in this cemetery, including John and Lucretia Oliver, Russell Gregory, Elder William Howell Oliver, and more. Descendants of the early settlers, such as the Olivers, Cables, and Shieldses, are still allowed to be buried in this cemetery today.

Use of the Cades Cove Primitive Baptist Church Today

Although the Great Smoky Mountains National Park was established in 1934, members of the Cades Cove Primitive Baptist Church did not stop meeting in the church building until the 1960s. After the church officially closed, members continued to maintain the building and cemetery until the 1970s with a Special Use Permit. Today, the Primitive Baptist Church is still used for occasional ceremonies and religious events. Cades Cove weddings can be held in the historic church if you apply for a Special Use Permit from the National Park Service. Visitors are also welcome to stop by to explore the Primitive Baptist Church whenever Cades Cove is open as long as no events are taking place.

Find Out More About Cades Cove History

Now you know a bit more about the historical Cades Cove Primitive Baptist Church. Are you interested in learning more about Cades Cove history? Discover interesting facts about other historical structures in Cades Cove! Then, plan a visit to come see them all in person!

Related Blog Posts

Front Tipton Place
September 8, 2022
Cades Cove History: Your Ultimate Recommended Reading Guide
black and white image of historic Cades Cove cabin with split rail fence
March 30, 2017
Learn the Incredible History of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park at the Cades Cove Visitors Center
cades cove loop
November 1, 2021
The Caughron Family: The Last Residents of Cades Cove Tennessee
Henry Whitehead Place
December 27, 2021
Everything You Need to Know About the Henry Whitehead Place in Cades Cove