Thursday, September 15, 2011

A County Cornerstone - Downtown Painesville's First Church Congregational

A  donation for an emergency American Red Cross Blood Drive brought me to today's blog topic.  It got me to thinking that churches were architectural cornerstones to communities.  People often built their homes near their places of work or worship.  I wondered how old was old when it came to area churches? Every city, village, or township has an old church from a bygone era.  Certainly, The Old Stone Church on Public Square in Cleveland was the area's oldest?  It was built in 1819.  Then I came upon the history of the Bible Baptist Church in Madison.  Its presence was established in 1814.  Next, I came upon the story of The United Methodist Church in Mentor.  It was established in 1811 as part of the gifted property of Clark and Margaret Jordan Parker.  Which returns me to today's topic.  In 1810 the First Church (Presbyterian) was established by Rev. Nathan B. Darrow.  Located on 22 Liberty Street in Painesville, it has had a continuous presence there since the original 13 members gathered for worship. It celebrated its bicentennial in 2010.

First Church as it stands today is essentially the same as it was in the 1860's.  The cornerstone is still present.  Philosophical issues about the topic of slavery resulted in the church leaving the Presbyterian Church for the Congregationalist Church in 1868.  The 1863 pipe organ from the Garrett House of Buffalo has been replaced.  However, the church architecture, Rose Window, and history have merited Historic Building Marker Status and placement on the Mentor Avenue Historic District Register.

Whether you visit the church as a weekend guest or simply have a chance encounter ( Red Cross Blood Drive) bring you inside, First Church Congregational in downtown Painesville is another hidden gem in our county history.

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