First Presbyterian Church - 703 Church St
This is the oldest standing religious building in Georgetown. The same bell purchased in 1877 for $69.15 continues to summon the congregation to worship. Shortly after the turn of the century, original square windows were altered to pointed arch openings in the Gothic Revival style, stained glass windows were installed and the steeple was constructed. Notice the "quoins" at the corners of the scored, stucco-veneered facade.
The Rev. William Mumford Baker presided over this congregation's organization in 1854 at the Round Rock home of Richard and Mary Agnes (Cooper) Sansom. By 1856, the church was meeting in Georgetown, where C.A.D. Clamp deeded a site (at 4th and Myrtle streets) for a sanctuary and one of the town's first schools. In 1866, following the Civil War, the membership split into separate Northern and Southern congregations. The division continued into the 1890s, when the Northern church disbanded and sold the present building to the Southern congregation. Georgetown Presbyterians have met in this building since 1873. The Northern and Southern denominations reunited in 1983 as Presbyterian Church (USA). (2004)
THE FIRST PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH OF GEORGETOWN The Making Of A Church By - Laura Duncan, 211 West Central Avenue, Georgetown, Texas 78626
The First Presbyterian Church of Georgetown was organized on June 12th,1854. (1) The organizational meeting was held in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Richard Sansom on the old Round Rock Road, in Round Rock, Texas. The presiding minister was Rev. William M. Baker of Austin, and the charter members included Dr. Thomas Barbee, Miss Letitia Barbee, Mrs. Margaret Morrow, Mr. and Mrs. Richard Sansom, and Mrs. S.F. Tyler. At the first meeting, Dr. Barbee and Richard Sansom were elected Ruling Elders, one of the Sansom children was baptized, and the Sacrament of Holy Communion was observed.
The original name was the Round Rock Presbyterian Church.
The name was changed when the services were shifted to Georgetown, due to the majority of the members living here. (2) After the Civil War, the church split with one group calling itself Georgetown Presbyterian Church (Southern) in 1866 (3), and the other group calling itself First Presbyterian Church in 1870. In 1925 the Georgetown Presbyterian Church assumed the name First Presbyterian Church, after buying their building. (5)
In 1861, all of the Presbyteries in Texas withdrew from the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. and became affiliated with the Presbyterian Church of the Confederate States of America.
At the conclusion of the Civil War, the congregation voted 15 to 5 to return to the U.S.A. Church (Northern) (4), which resulted in splitting the congregation for 28 years. Both churches claimed to be the continuing congregation, and both were led by people who had united with the church prior to the end of 1856.
The U.S.A. congregation (northern) immediately called Rev. John McMurray (6) to become Stated Supply of the congregation. His other job was to be the principal of the Georgetown Male and Female Academy, which is said to be the first school in Georgetown, and it met in
the little wooden building owned by the congregation.
(It is believed that the location of the church was at the corner of 4th and Church Streets. The wood from this structure would be used in 1872, for part of the new rock structure completed in 1873.)
In 1870, the congregation voted to build a more permanent house of worship (7).
They purchased a group of lots known as Block 10 of the Glasscock Addition8, from Mr. John McFadin. The land was originally a land grant from the Republic of Texas to Clement Stubblefield, dated August 19, 1844 (9), and signed by Sam Houston. The new rock structure that was built cost $ 3,520.00 (10). It included a Sanctuary and a basement, both still used today. It was completed in the fall of 1873, with a school opening on September 5, 1873, and Church School held two days later (11). The original structure had a cupola, with a bell being purchased in 1877 (12). A spire was then added in 1884 (13).
While the Northern congregation was busy building, the Southern congregation kept busy, too.
In 1877, it purchased a building, on East Seventh Street at Myrtle Street, from the "Christian Church" (14). This congregation grew faster than the Northern one. One member, Mr. John Sparks ( an attorney who would later become Governor of Nevada) donated land for a Cemetery, in October 1879 (15). Then, in 1886, Rev. M.C. Hutton was called to be the pastor of the Church (16). He led the congregation for thirty-five years, which is the longest pastorate the church had.
In 1894, the U.S.A. The congregation dissolved and sold their building to the U.S. Congregation17. The U.S.'s old building was sold to the Swedish Methodist (now Saint John's), and they later sold it to the Woodmen of the World.
About 1895, the congregation started alterations on the building.
The windows were changed from square to Gothic in shape, and the vaulted ceiling was installed18. In 1913 a vestibule (narthex) was added (19). Six stained glass windows were installed at this time. In 1954, the current Educational wing was added, as well as the chancel area and the present narthex. The last two stained glass windows were added, then (20).
"On September 1, 1975, the Rev. David C. Duncan became pastor of the congregation. During his pastorate, the church has grown to three hundred members, the property at Seventh and Myrtle Streets has been purchased and converted to Christian Education space, a new manse has been built, a chair lift has been installed for the Sanctuary where the elderly or handicapped can attend worship, and many improvements have been made to the church properties. Besides the program of the church, which is provided for the congregation and community, the Church provides space for The New Experiences Pre-School, and for Beverly M. Garkham, a Psychotherapist, marriage and family, individual and group counselor."
The Church has served the community through the years.
Besides the Male and Female Academy (_which Sam Houston's son attended in the 1860s), a public school was held in the Church's earlier facility, Southwestern University's Young Ladies School used the facility in 1878, and several churches have had their start in the building. Examples are Crestview Baptist and San Gabriel Christian Church. It is in the spirit of service and love that we worship and work today.