Sunday, March 11, 2012

Earliest Church

Earliest Church marker in Stanford, KY (Click any photo to Enlarge)Lincoln County, KY
Marker Number 1234

Marker Text: The Stanford Presbyterian Church, founded 1788 on this site, on Old Wilderness Trail. Land given by Mary Briggs, sister of Gen. Benjamin Logan. Church moved to its present site, 1838; land given by Logan, one of founders. In 1797, David Rice, father of Presbyterianism in Kentucky, preached here. The original log church now part of this library building.

Location: On Main St. in front of the Old Presbyterian Meeting House and Museum, Stanford, Kentucky (U.S. Routes 27 & 150). Erected by the Kentucky Historical Society, Kentucky Department of Highways in 1969.

Earliest Church marker in Stanford, KY in front of Old Presbyterian Meeting House  I have not posted a marker about a church for a few months and today's marker is about a church I came across in Stanford, Kentucky last May. As you can see from the photos below this marker is next to a building as a part of the Lincoln County History Museum and within the walls of this building are the original log walls of what is probably Kentucky's oldest remaining church building. I was told that the Stanford Presbyterian congregation does conduct worship at this site about once a year to remind the congregation of its early roots in the community.

  The first recorded evidence of a congregation of Presbyterians in Stanford, Kentucky is from the minutes of Transylvania Presbytery meeting at Paint Lick in 1788. By order of the Presbytery, the Rev. McConnell was commissioned to preach two Sundays each month in the vicinity of the Stanford Courthouse for the congregation there.

Old Presbyterian Meeting House in Stanford, KY

The original log walls of the church are within the building pictured and you can see a section of the old wall from inside the museum. Click any photo to enlarge.

  According to sources in Kentucky the Stanford congregation was the result of the initial missionary work of the Rev. David Rice. Presbyterians were already in Kentucky when David Rice, a graduate of Princeton Seminary in New Jersey, came in 1783. From what I have read about Presbyterian's in Virginia and Kentucky the establishment of many early churches had a lot to do with the numbers of Presbyterian's that moved to a specific location, like Stanford, KY.

Earliest Church marker on Main Street in Stanford, KY

Photo taken looking east toward downtown, current church building is on same side of street about four blocks away.

  In the early 1790’s Mrs. Mary Briggs, sister of Benjamin Logan, founder Logan's Station that bears his name, which later became Stanford, gave the property here to the Stanford congregation to erect a church building. A log building with a gallery at each end was built sometime before February, 1792 and the name was changed to the Buffalo Springs Presbyterian Church. The people worshipped there for 40 years. The log structure still stands as a part of the restored Old Presbyterian Meeting House on West Main Street and the Stanford Presbyterian Church is among one of the first churches established in Kentucky.

Stanford Presbyterian Church on Main Street, Stanford, KY

Current building for the Stanford Presbyterian Church.

  In 1836, construction a new church in Stanford at its present location a few blocks east of here was begun. Built of brick, the building was dedicated in 1842. The bell, used to summon people to worship, was moved from Buffalo Springs. This building was used twice during the civil war as a hospital by soldiers from the Battle of Perryville and again during an outbreak of measles.

  The Stanford Presbyterian Church today is still located on the old Wilderness Trace road. In 1887 a tornado swept through Stanford and tore away the roof and cupola of the Church. The present (and fourth) church building was constructed in 1888 using salvaged materials from the prior building, at a cost of $55,000. The sanctuary was remodeled in 1928-29. The gallery was removed and the colonial front was added. A two-rank Pilcher pipe organ was installed. The organ is still in use.

Old Presbyterian Meeting House plaque in Stanford, KY  (Click to enlarge)

Plaque on the side of the old building by the marker.

  The cupola was restored in 2003. The bell from the Buffalo Springs Church still hangs in the tower. In 2005 the interior of the sanctuary was restored. The basement of the church was remodeled as a part of the 220th celebration in 2008.

  I also contributed higher resolution photos about this marker on The Historical Marker Database.

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