Heritage
First  Presbyterian  Church heart of the city
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The date was April 22, 1838, when
Presbyterian services were first held
in Davenport by Rev. Enoch Mead
in a small building above the alley
on Ripley Street between Second
and Front Streets. In 1839 the First
Presbyterian Church was officially
organized by Rev. Michael Hummer.  
It was the first Protestant church in
Davenport. The ten charter
members who bound themselves
together were: Mrs. Anna Rhea
Mitchell, Mrs. Jemima Barkley, Dr.
and Mrs. Alexander C. Donaldson,
Mr. and Mrs. Andrew F. Russell, Mr.
and Mrs. Thomas S. Hoge, and Mr.
and Mrs. Robert Christie. Services
were held at Tippecanoe cabin,
located at the southwest corner of
Third and Main Streets.

By 1843 the members of the
congregation felt the need for a
building of their own.  This led them
to construct a small brick chapel on
the north side of Third Street,
between Harrison and Main Streets.
The membership had grown to 17.

Within the next decade these
devoted pioneers managed to build
a larger structure on the same
property. Known as the Third Street
Church, records claim it was
Davenport’s first church with a
steeple. The women of the
congregation held a fair to raise
money for a bell for the steeple.
Communicant members increased
to 184.

On April 26, 1864, the former St.
Luke Episcopal Church at the corner
of Seventh and Brady Strets
became the property of First
Presbyterian Church and its home
for the next thirty-five years. (This is
the same building which housed the
Davenport Public Museum from the
turn of the century until 1963.)

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Seventh Street Church

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Christian Education Building

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Copyright © 2017 First Presbyterian Church of Davenport, Iowa. All Rights Reserved.

During the Civil War Presbyterian
women joined other Davenport
church women in sewing uniforms
and knitting garments for Union
soldiers. Later their care extend to
soldiers’ orphans. Church member
Patience Newcomb was a Director
of the State Soldiers’ Orphan
Society and was influential in
establishing a home for children in
the unused barracks of Camp
Kinsman, later the site of the Iowa
Soldiers’ Orphan Home.

Newcomb Chapel, in Hamburg (now
Northwest Davenport), and Renwick
Chapel, both memorials to First
Presbyterian members, were
evidences of local outreach. These
chapels grew to be the Newcomb
and Mt. Ida Presbyterian
congregations. By the end of the
1800s the congregation had grown
to nearly 400.

The city was growing. So, again, the
congregation decided to move and
purchased a site at the corner of
Kirkwood Boulevard and Iowa
Street. Three years later, on
December 3, 1899, the congregation
assembled at the Seventh Street
Church and marched up the hill to
the new church. This beautiful
Romanesque building of Marquette
brownstone is a register National
Historical Moment and noted for its
especially fine stained glass
windows. An educational wing was
added in 1923.

Church life for members and their
children centers around weekly
worship services and Christian
education classes. Among the vital
programs of study, service and
mission are adult Biblical studies,
Deacons’ outreach to the
community, sponsorship of refugee
families, youth and adult fellowship
opportunities.  Participating in the
ministry of music are the seventy-
five voice Sanctuary Choir, fouth
youth and children’s choirs, and an
adult bell choir.

Ministers who have served the
church over the years are: Michael
Hummer, 1839-1842; Samuel
Cleland, 1842-1846; George Rea,
1846-1848; Erastas Ripley, 1848-
1849; James Mason, 1849-1860;
Samuel Anderson, 1860-1870; John
Stewart, 1870-1872; Charles Nott,
1872-1881; Nicholas Clute, 1881-
1886; Joseph Little, 1886-1896;
John Donaldson, 1896-1908; LeRoy
Coffman, 1908-1935; Alfred
Nickless, 1935-1951; Lloyd
Hindman, 1951-1960; Donald
Blackstone, 1961-1972; H. Allen
Wirtz, 1973-1994; Richard
Wereley,1996-2007; Richard Miller
2008 to present.

Witness to the congregation’s
commitment to maintaining their
church home are additions of a
three manual, forty-five rank
Casavant Fréres pipe organ in 1980,
an elevator in 1981 and additional
landscaped grounds and parking
facilities in 1990.