Throwback Thursday – First Presbyterian Church of Bowling Green

A Bowling Green church has over 200 years of history. Founded in 1819, the First Presbyterian Church has been part of southern Kentucky for two centuries. The church’s location on State and 10th Streets has been its home since 1837.

Two hundred years ago, the nearest Presbyterian congregation in the area was north of Bowling Green at Caney Fork. The group had a couple of meetings in the Three Springs area south of Bowling Green, but did not set up an official church until 1819. 

The First Presbyterian Church was led by Reverend Joseph Lapsley and built in what is now Pioneer Cemetery in downtown Bowling Green. There are no known photos of it, but the structure lasted less than a couple decades. 

The church moved to its current location in 1837. By then its 50-person congregation was led by Reverend Samuel Wilson Calvert, grandfather of Eliza Calvert whom Throwback Thursday has featured before. When the Civil War came to town, the church converted into a hospital for wounded Union soldiers, which lands it a spot on the modern Unseen Bowling Green haunted walking tour.

The church has experienced many hardships over the years, like a steeple fire in 1895, two congregational splits and three reunions, and many remodels. The church celebrates milestone anniversaries. WNKY’s research even found program announcements from the church’s sesquicentennial and 175-year anniversaries. 

The First Presbyterian Church celebrated the 200-year anniversary throughout 2019 with special events and displays.