north carolina highway historical marker program
North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Program



Marker Text:

     The Red House Church, near the present-day town of Semora, is home to one of the earliest Presbyterian congregations in North Carolina. Hugh McAden, widely considered the “father of the Presbyterianism in North Carolina,” founded the church between 1755 and 1756. McAden also served the congregation, then called the Middle Hico Church, in the 1770s, and was buried in the churchyard cemetery upon his death in 1781. The Red House Church has been rebuilt multiple times; the building that stands today, the church’s fourth, was constructed in 1913.

     Hugh McAden traveled to North Carolina from Pennsylvania between June 1755 and May 1756 on a missionary trip. During that time, he founded seven separate Presbyterian parishes, including the congregation at Middle Hico. McAden returned to North Carolina in 1757, settling in Duplin County, where he served Grove Church and Rockfish Church. McAden continued to preach at other churches in Duplin and New Hanover counties.

     In 1769, McAden moved to what was then Orange County, present-day Caswell County, to the area near Semora. He served at the Middle Hico Church between 1769 and his death in 1781. In 1770, McAden was one of seven founding members of the Presbytery of Orange, formed to support the growth of the Presbyterian Church in North Carolina. In 1781 he was buried in the Middle Hico cemetery. Soon after McAden’s death, Lord Cornwallis and his troops marched through the area in pursuit of troops led by Nathanael Greene.

     The Middle Hico Church congregation, which McAden established in the mid 1750s, constructed its first church building around 1756. It continued to be known as the Middle Hico Church until 1806, when its name was changed to correspond to the community’s name. The area around the Middle Hico Church had become known as Red House, because a popular inn nearby was painted red. In 1806 the second church was constructed, and the third was constructed in 1809. The fourth church was built in 1913 in the Neoclassical Revival style.

William S. Powell, When the Past Refused to Die: A History of Caswell County, North Carolina, 1777-1977 (1977)
Catherine Bishir and Michael Southern, A Guide to the Historic Architecture of Piedmont North Carolina (2003)
Hugh Lefler and Albert Ray Newsome, The History of a Southern State: North Carolina (1954)
Ruth Little-Stokes, An Inventory of Historic Architecture: Caswell County, North Carolina (1979)
William Henry Foote, Sketches of North Carolina (1846)
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north carolina highway historical marker program

© 2008 North Carolina Office of Archives & History — Department of Cultural Resources