First Presbyterian Church is the first and most important church in uptown Charlotte.
Most of the earliest settlers of Mecklenburg County were white Scotch Irish Presbyterians who migrated here from the North, seeking cheap backwoods land in the Carolinas that was being sold off by the royal government. The earliest bands of Presbyterians initially worshipped in seven churches outside of the village, and it wasn't until 1823 that a church was built within the town of Charlotte itself. The initial building at the corner of Trade and Church streets was encumbered by debt, and was actually used a a town church by several denominations until a Presbyterian Church member finally paid it off and deeded it to his congregation. The Gothic Revival building, seen above in 1935, was the second church on the site. It was erected in 1857 and was topped by its distinctive spire and ornamentation in 1883.
This photo shows the interior of the church's sanctuary, and dates from the 1940s.
The First Presbyterian Church now takes up an entire city block and exists after more than 150 years as the oldest congregation in Charlotte to worship in the same sanctuary. In 1916 the Sunday School Building was doubled in size, and in the 1950s and 1960s a large Fellowship Hall and the Education Buidling were added to the left rear of the church.
The Gothic church and its spire still remain the symbol of the city's early Presbyterian heritage, and the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the United States has met here four times since 1864. In this view, the church looks much the same, but its surroundings certainly don't. No longer ringed by the grand residences dotting down Fourth Ward at the turn of the century, First Presbyterian now stands as a remnant of the past between the office buildings that dominate Charlotte's modern skyline.
Until next week!
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Information taken from:
Charlotte Then and Now, Brandon Lunsford, 2013.
“We have to do with the past only as we can make it useful to the present and the future.” – Frederick Douglass