The First Presbyterian Church was the first church founded in Harrison in March 1811, just 7 years after Ohio was admitted as a state in the union and 39 years before Harrison was ever incorporated as a village. The Reverend Samuel Baldridge and 17 charter members whom had brought their certificate of membership from their native churches founded the Presbyterian Society. The 16 charter members are: John and Charity Allen, Susan Wycoff, Grace Ford, Phebe and Marvin William and Naomi Pharis, Margaret Wakefield, Mary Havens, Jane Johnson, Rachel Bonnel, Mrs. And Mrs. John Ewing, John Pharis, Andrew Wakefield, and William Wallace. There first meeting was held in the home of John Allen. He along with Charter member, Robert Marvin, helped lay out the village of Harrison when it was nothing but a cluster of farmhouses. Like all pioneer efforts this church had its struggles for existence and progress. Because there was not an actual church to worship in the congregation met in area homes during the winter months, and during the summer months they gathered in barns.
In 1820, a movement was started to erect the first meeting place, and in some years later a log structure completed and dedicated on what was know as the Presbyterian Subdivision.
On June 5. 1832 the First Presbyterian Society was incorporated, and then purchased 9.5 acres from John Docterman and his wife for$450.00. In the autumn of 1833 the first meeting house was completed and dedicated.
In 1843, the congregation authorized the building of the first Manse for $443.46.5, which is the residence of a Presbyterian minister. The site was a parcel of land off what is now Hill St across from the Village Park. As the congregation got bigger, a permanent place of worship was needed and the First Presbyterian Church under the pastorate of Rev. P.H. Golloday was erected on it’s present day site of 115 S.Vine St in 1849 at a cost of #5,220.00. The first meeting to be held in this church was on January 4, 1851. A steeple of Sir Christopher Wren design was added to the church costing $330.00 in 1851, but was destroyed 3 years later in a tornado that ripped through the village of Harrison 1854. In 1854, the elders sold the Manse on Hill Street for $2500.00 and a year later used the money to build a Manse next to the church. A new steeple was also built over the church the year that the Manse was sold. A new Manse was built on a lot adjoining the church on Vine St. for $1,135.00 and was completed in 1855.
In 1888, the congregation had wooded pews built by a Harrison furniture company while church elders went to New York and brought back, by train, stained glass windows to be installed. The money for the stained glass windows by church groups, or donated by church families. The children’s organization managed to raise the money for a large front window by holding ice cream socials. Those same pews and windows still stand in the church today. The church continued to change as the congregation grew. A pulpit and a podium were built in 1926 and the floor of the church was completely torn up and rebuilt, so that it slanted upwards towards the east, giving those attending services a better viewing capacity of the pulpit. A tin ceiling was put in at this time, and a brass piped organ was installed at this time at the cost of $4,400.00. Again as the church continued to grow it forced the elders to ….. the Manse in 1960 and build a new addition onto the church that featured an office, classrooms, meeting rooms, and a kitchen.
Obtain more information about our upcoming Bicentennial Jubilee by visiting the website we created just for it. (click here).