Founded in 1872, First Church occupied several smaller buildings before its current structure was completed in 1891.
Reflections of its past can be seen at every turn -- in the name chiseled over its doors, in the coal dust that darkened its stone, in the layers of paint on its walls, in the modifications to its structure to accommodate a changing congregation -- even in the nature of its services over the years.
Originally known as the First Methodist Episcopal Church South, the church first met in Janury 1872 in the Bryant House storefront located on 1st Ave and 21st St. N.
Before the end of June that same year, the congregation constructed a small frame structure on a lot provided for a token $5 by the Elyton Land Company. Before 1883 the original frame structure was replaced with a larger, brick-clad sanctuary two blocks south. The building featured tall lancet windows and a bell tower with a steeple roof over the eastern entrance.
In 1891 the Sanctuary, which is still in use today, was constructed by George Kramer of the Ohio firm “Weary and Kramer” known for church design. It is built in the American Romanesque Revival architectural style and is covered in Ohio brownstone. In celebration a marble baptismal font by Tiffany & Company of New York was purchased for the building.
In 1921, the church began to expand—first to include an Administration Building, then in 1950 to include the Office and Chapel building, and eventually the Education Building in 1964. The Sanctuary underwent a major renovation in 1972, which included cutting a new entrance into the rear of the original Sanctuary building. In 2014, the Sanctuary underwent a second major renovation that restored the interior to its original 1891 coloring and detail. The church was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.
First Church has a wonderful history as the “Mother Church” of many churches in the Greater Birmingham area. While we embrace our history, we are also constantly seeking to be born anew in the various ways we can “be the church” in downtown Birmingham, Alabama. At First Church, our wonderful history is combined with a dynamic vision to create an engaging, authentic experience of worship, discipleship, and service.
ABOUT OUR CHURCH
An historic church in the heart of downtown Birmingham, First Church Birmingham is an open place for ALL to worship, grow, and serve. We are a diverse congregation made up of people from all over the Birmingham metro area and beyond.
You are welcome here!
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First Church Birmingham
518 19th St North
Birmingham, AL 35203
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