The History of 1st Prez


Picture of old church
     First Presybterian Church of Jeffersonville was founded on May 22, 1830 with 12 members.  Dr. Samuel Meriwether was elected the first elder of the church that same year.  Early on, services were held in the county courthouse.  Construction of the first church building located on West Market Street began on September 24, 1832.

       Construction of the building we currently occupy at the corner of Walnut and Chestnut Streets, began on August 13, 1860.  The orginal section, the south portion of the building, was dedicated on the first Sunday of December in 1860.  The Civil War delayed the completion of the remainder of the building until 1864.

     
Church membership increased greatly during his time.  From the orginal 12 members in 1830, First Presbyterian Church grew to 134 members by 1855, and by 1880 there were 275 members.  During the ministry of the Reverend Joseph M. Hutchinson (1871 to 1896), the membership increased dramatically to 482.

     Many improvements were made to the church in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.  In anticipation of the first stained glass windows, the balcony at the north end of the sanctuary was removed, walls and ceilings were re-frescoed, woodwork and pews were refinished and the chandeliers were converted from gas to electricity. A new water-powered organ was installed in September 1908.

      In the summer of 1902, the Ann Hutchinson house was built next door to the church building on Walnut Street as a residence for the pastor.  The house was later occupied by the church office and Sunday School, and also used for various meetings and functions of the Women's Association.  It was finally torn down in 1983.

     On December 14, 1930, the James E. Taggart addition, known as Taggart Hall, became part of the church.  This provided needed space for many programs and activities.

     
In January 1937, The Ohio River flooded and caused consideral damage to the building.  More than 12 feet of water stood in the sanctuary.  In fact, a crack that is still visible today in the wall next to the plaque at the back of the sanctuary marks the flood's crest.  As part of the rehabilitation and repairs after the flood, the sanctuary seating was reversed to provide a better view of the large stained-glass windo
w (the Good Shepherd window) facing Chestnut Street.  Space was also made for the new organ in the front of the sanctuary.  The restored and remodeled church was dedicated on September 26, 1937.
Picture of 1st Prez Sanctuary atfer the 1937 flood
    
     Another major renovation was completed in 1987 when a new addition was built on the south side of the church. The entire facility was repainted, re-carpeted and modernized.


      Our current organ, a 22 rank Shantz organ, was dedicated on May 15, 1994.  Pictures of our organ can be viewed at the Southern Indiana Chapter of the American Guild of Organist website.

      In 1998, a capital campaign raised $150,000 to provide ongoing maintenance, repair, and improvement of the church's property.

      In light of all this, we believe that First Presybterian Church of Jeffersonville is a congregation with a rich history, a vibrant present, and a bright future.  We invite you to join us as we continue our faith journey together.