This is Gainesville’s oldest church. The congregation was organized in April of 1837 through the joint efforts of a small group of Southern-born Presbyterians and New England Congregationalists, including the family of Col. Moses Lewis who established the town of Gainesville. That same month, a contract was awarded for the construction of the present building, which was opened for services the following year.
Except for the renovation of the pulpit and the removal of the paneled pew-gates, the church has been virtually unaltered since its completion. It has three blocks of original paneled box pews (gates removed and stored), U-shaped slave gallery at sides and rear, original whale oil lamps (now electrified) and a circa 1890 reed organ. It also has a church bell that was cast using 500 silver dollars to improve its tone.
Maria Fearing, while still a slave, attended this church. Later, she gained prominence as a missionary to the Congo and was inducted into the Alabama Women’s Hall of Fame in 2000 for her achievements.
The Gainesville Presbyterian Church is a contributing property to the Gainesville Historic District that was added to the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) on October 3, 1985. This church is located on McKee Street (Hwy 39) near downtown Gainesville (GPS coordinates 32.819749,-88.159208).
Sources: 1) Gainesville, Alabama Tour Guide; 2) NRHP “Gainesville Historic District” Document; 3) NRHP “Gainesville, Alabama MRA” Document.
Photographs courtesy of RuralSWAlabama.