History of First Presbyterian Church of Shelbyville

The Beginning

The church began July 7, 1824, in Senah and Zebulon Wallace's log cabin in Hendricks Township, two years after the town of Shelbyville was platted. Thought to have met while waiting for the land office at Brookville, Indiana, to open; Wallace, Thomas Vaughn, and ten other neighbors saw a need for a spiritual bond in the community they settled.
In 1839, the worshipers felt the congregation should have a permanent house of worship. The trustees purchased the entire square of ground bounded by Harrison Street, Jackson Street, and an alley. The money for this project was secured from four gentlemen of the congregation.

The First Building

The new house of worship was a commodious one, 40 by 50 feet, costing $2,500. It was set on wooden blocks five feet high to raise it above the swampy ground. A flight of wooden steps nearly as wide as the building led to the door. A plain cupola adorned the roof and held a bell purchased by the women of the church -- the same that even now calls us to worship.
The congregation prospered such that in 13 short years the building was deemed insufficient. Again the trustees decided to build again. The Greek Revival style church was completed in less than two years and was dedicated on September 1, 1853.

The Current Building

The present building at 124 W. Broadway began with a congregational meeting on April 15, 1884. At first, the decision to move was met with opposition from some of the congregation who felt it was too far out in the country and away from where most members lived. However, the new church was built in a little over nine months at a cost of $22,000 and was dedicated in April 1885. Originally, the congregation faced Jackson Street. Those entering from Broadway came into the rear of the sanctuary.

What We Have  Always Stood For

During the sesquicentennial celebration in 1974, Dr. James A. Schumacher, pastor at that time, made the following comments, “At our church Sesquicentennial worship service in July, Dr. Charles Bowler commented that the only way rightly to use the past is to get a great future out of it. It is only because there is a future that the past has meaning. Our church has played an important role in the life of the community because it met the needs of people. It is important for us in the years ahead to continue to extend the ministry of Christ to the physical, religious, and personal needs of people. One of the finest attributes of our church is the concern of our members for one another. In times of tragedy, illness, and death, we have stood together—a constant source of strength. May that strength and the faith that makes it possible continue and grow among us through all the years to come.”