First Presbyterian Church

From HistoryWiki

First Presbyterian Church Soundex Code C620

First Presbyterian Church of Chicago

6400 S. Kimbark Avenue

Co-founded by Philo Carpenter.

On Wednesday, June 26, 1833, twenty-five Congregationalists and one forceful Presbyterian founded a Presbyterian Church in the fledging community of Chicago. That staunch Presbyterian, Philo Carpenter, had already been preaching against the social ills of the day. In 1833, Chicago consisted of Fort Dearborn, a few hastily assembled log cabins, and encampments of American Indians waiting for the payments from the Federal Government as part of the settlement of the Black Hawk War.

In January of 1834 the small but growing congregation built its first building at Clark Street and Lake Street. It was also used as the classroom for the first publicly supported school, and functioned as a court room and a community meeting place for concerts and lectures.

The congregation quickly outgrew this meeting house and relocated to a larger building at Clark Street and Washington Street. The congregation did not, however, outgrow its concern for its neighbors and the social problems of the day.

Church members included the publisher of Chicago’s abolitionist newspaper. Philo Carpenter and other members hosted Underground Railway stations in their homes and businesses.

In 1858 members of the congregation began organized community outreach through a Railroad Mission which began as a Sunday school in two abandoned railroad cars. The program included education programs, a community newsletter, a gymnasium, kindergarten, and community gardens. The Railroad Mission continued to serve the south side of Chicago at various locations until 1916.

In 1926, after a merger with Woodlawn Park Presbyterian Church, the congregation moved to its current location at 6400 S. Kimbark Avenue in the Woodlawn community.