Heritage of First Presbyterian

Our heritage begins in 1838 and continues through today. As we continue ever forward, we continue to build our heritage and provide a foundation of faith for our youth.

April 22, 1883

First Presbyterian Church’s doors first opened for worship on April 22, 1838.

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.

1843

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.

1864

On April 26, 1864, the former St. Luke Episcopal Church at the corner of Seventh and Brady Streets 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.)

Civil War Era

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.

1899

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 registered National Historical Moment and noted for its especially fine stained glass windows.

1923

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, youth and children’s choirs, and an adult
bell choir.

Ministers Over The Years

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, 2008-2018.

To learn more about the Heritage Committee and volunteer in the church’s Heritage Center, please contact us at infofpc@fpcdavenport.org