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First Presbyterian Church, Girard

First Presbyterian Church of Girard

The First Presbyterian Church of Girard is located at 200 North Summit, on the northeast corner of Walnut and Summit. Girard is located in southeast Kansas, in Crawford County.

The congregation formed in the years following the Civil War as settlers moved into the area. Girard was named the county seat in 1869 and efforts were begun to organize a church there. The six charter members, mostly women, met in various locations before a church could be built. The congregation bought the lot in 1870, and constructed the first building in 1871. Located in a core residential neighborhood, it lies one block north of the Crawford County courthouse square. A tornado destroyed the original frame building in 1886.

The second church was completed in late 1887 at a cost of $8,116.38. It is among the community’s oldest remaining buildings. Among the members who contributed to the rebuilding effort were Henry and Sarah Alice Haldeman, who owned the State Bank of Girard, and John E. Raymond, a pioneer hardware dealer, banker, and philanthropist. The building's architects were Charles Crosby Miller and Joseph A. Thain of Chicago. Their level of involvement in the church's design is unknown.

The church is a two-story masonry building. Rectangular in massing, it has a steep gabled roof with one tower and lower cross gables. The rubble limestone foundation and brick exterior walls are set in a common bond pattern. The roof, with abbreviated eaves, is covered with composition shingles. The double-hung wood windows have dressed limestone sills and corbelled lintels with stained glass glazing. Some have half-round arch tops.

The main entrance, located on the west, has a double door with corbelled arched opening. Stairs flanked by brick cheek walls rise from the sidewalk to the double entry doors. The entry doors have been replaced at least twice since the building’s original construction.

The south elevation, on one side, is the most architecturally complex. There is a 1.5 story stair tower on the west end, rising up to a three-story bell tower. The top of the tower, which originally measured 60 feet in height, was removed in 1972.

The church interior has plaster wall, stained woodwork, original window openings and trim with 1914 stained glass windows. The windows were funded by members and are inscribed with the names of the Winstons, the Gemmels, the Bruces, and the Haldemans. Sarah Addams Haldeman’s sister, Jane Addams, who established Hull House in Chicago, also donated funds for a window. In 1917 the church received funds from the Carnegie Foundation to purchase a Hinner’s Pipe Organ. Local lore indicates that the project received special preference because of a friendship between Jane Addams and Andrew Carnegie. Carnegie funded a total of 35 pipe organs in Kansas.  

The sanctuary is accessible via an exterior entrance on the east end. The pews were replaced in 1986 and face east toward a raised stage with pulpit. The balcony, or gallery, is partially enclosed and has an opening on the east side. There is also a lecture room, infant class room, kitchen, and basement.

By 1939 the church membership had grown to 230. Weekly services are still held at the church.

The building was nominated to the National Register of Historic Places in 2009 for its architectural significance as a good local example of Romanesque Revival architecture, believed to be the only such design for a Presbyterian Church in the state.

Entry: First Presbyterian Church, Girard

Author: Kansas Historical Society

Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.

Date Created: September 2014

Date Modified: September 2014

The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.