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 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
pastor of the Church (16). He led the congregation for
thirty five years, which is the longest pastorate the
In 1894, the U.S.A.
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