Property Type: Institutional
Neighborhood: Downtown  |  County: Ada  |  Building Status: Public  |  Architectural Style: Gothic Revival
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First Presbyterian Church

On July 15, 1877 Sheldon Jackson, a great pioneer missionary, started preaching to a town of about 1,100 people. Because of Jackson’s preaching, they decided to start a church called First Presbyterian Church in 1878 by Rev. W.H Stratton. They had their first meeting at the Baptist Church until their own church could be built. Where the Idanha Hotel stands at 10th and Main Street is where the First Presbyterian Church’s sanctuary was. Now the sanctuary stands at 9th and State Street. The sanctuary on 9th and State streets was built in the year 1893.

During the early 1890’s Boise had a population of about 4,000 people. In 1893 there were plans to move the First Presbyterian Church to its present location at 9th and State Street. The new building cost $15,000 and sat 305 people. The architect for the building was James King. C.B. Little and J.E. Tourtellote did the construction work. In 1929 the Manse was torn down to make room for a three story addition to the church. The cost was $67,000.

Boise grew rapidly and was now a city of 56,000. In 1949 the church membership was around 1,000. When Dr. Lindsay retired they decided to make a new sanctuary. The older sanctuary was 60 years old in 1951. The architects were Hummel and Jones. The church was built by Babbit Construction with a contemporary design. The new sanctuary could fit nearly 800 people and a smaller chapel could fit 90. The building was finished September 21, 1954.

In the early 1960’s the old sanctuary was torn down. In its place Lindsay Hall was built. This gave the church a fully equipped kitchen and a ground level meeting room. With the addition of this building there are now three stand alone buildings between 9th and 10 Street along State Street. The last construction was around 1994 to combine the three separate buildings in to one.

Past Pastors of the Presbyterian Church were Rev. J.H. Barton 1889-1893, Rev. J.E. Cummings 1893-1894, Rev. W.B. Townsend 1894-1895, Rev. R.A. McKinley 1904-1908, Rev. C.L. Chalfant 1908-1915, Rev. R.M. Donaldson 1915-1919, Rev. J.H. Baird 1920-1926, Rev. W.C. Ross 1926-1937, Rev. M.E. Lindsay 1937-1951, Rev. D.D. Tiffany 1951-1957, Dr. Frank Rearick 1958-1968, interim pastor Rev. Edgar E. Toevs, Dr. Roy E. Howes 1969-1976, short-term pastor John Chandler, Rev. Richard L. Terry 1976-1987, and Rev. Mark Davis 1989-2010. In 2012, Rev. Dr. Andrew Kukla became the current pastor of the church.

The First Presbyterian Church has programs seven days a week, Sunday School for all ages, Home Sunday School, Three Westminster Fellowship groups, Summer Conferences for your people and adults, Adult Choir, Youth Choir, Women’s Choir, Men’s Choir, Children’s Choir, Athletic groups such as basketball, baseball, etc., Three Adult Clubs, Women’s activities, Father and Son Indian Guide Program, Men’s Council, Two Morning Worship Services, Parents and Teachers training periods, Vacation Church School and Family Dinner meetings.

By Warren Kukla, 3rd Grade Collister Elementary

Portions of the information provided by Eloise Anderson

Addition information below added by Joseph and Keola Dunn:

The original First Presbyterian Church was built in 1878 at the site where the modern Idanha hotel stands. This church was built in a manner extremely representative of its time; a modern style by an unrecognized architect. This style resulted from the belief that God looked upon all equally and that everyone should be able to worship equally. This resulted in a plain, straightforward looking church with a non-distinctive structure. There was not, much artwork inside or outside, in the belief that the church was solely a place to worship.

Then, in 1894, a new church was constructed at the current site, 950 W. State Street. This second First Presbyterian church was built in an Akron style, meaning that it has a centered pulpit surrounded by pews for the congregation. The building is a neo-gothic style church, as was shown in its steeple and more artistic nature. The stained glass windows were elaborately designed, including multiple arches pointing towards the heavens in each window. It was a smaller neo-gothic style church, as Boise at the time did not have the population to support a large, traditional, neo-gothic style building. This sanctuary was used for almost 50 years.

In the early fifties, the Church underwent remodeling and construction to achieve a new look. The old, neo-gothic church was built on the south east side of the block. In the early fifties, a new sanctuary, the modern one, was constructed on the other side of the Christian education building. It was completed in 1954 and supervised by architect Charles Hummel. Mr. Hummel had just returned from serving in Korea. He had completed architecture school before the war and his first project was supervising the construction of the new sanctuary on the northwest side of the block. The new sanctuary was constructed differently from the neo-gothic one on the south-east side of the block. Its design was more modern in nature. This is apparent in the sanctuary, as it is the one still in use today. The windows, while still stained glass, are not pointed in an arch at the top, but rather squared off. The doors maintained their arched look, as well as the interior structure, however aside from these factors; the new sanctuary is predominantly modern, blending multiple styles. There was is not a bell tower on the sanctuary, and the roof is simply angled, not arched like the gothic-style churches. The stained glass windows were created by the Rambusch Company in New York City and shipped to Boise and installed in 1962.

In 1966, Lindsay Hall was constructed. It is located at the south east side of the block, where the old Akron sanctuary once stood. The building, according to Judy Austin, Lindsay hall was adjoining to the Christian Education Building. The purpose of the building was simply meeting space. For this reason, the building has three levels, the basement, the main floor, and the upper floor. It, for whatever reason, was not built to line up with the floors of the Christian Education building next door. The building itself is rather empty, as it is meant to hold as many people as possible.

So, in 1966, First Presbyterian Church consisted of three buildings; the sanctuary, the Christian Education building, and Lindsay Hall. In between the education building and Lindsay hall, there was a courtyard surrounded by brick arches. The arches were reminiscent of the neo-gothic style due to their arched nature and repetitiveness. To travel between the buildings, one had to venture outside in the weather. Stairs allowed for one to elevate themselves to the ground floor of Lindsay hall, as the buildings were not level. On the CE building there were Doric columns, adding a Greek revival style. Mrs. Austin, our interviewee, explained to us how she, in the 70’s, had to do security checks in the building every Sunday morning. This, however, she described, was no easy task due to the complex nature of the three buildings.

In the mid 1990’s, the church again underwent construction. This time, the goal was to combine the three buildings to optimize the available space in the church. This renovation added conference space as well as offices. It expanded the building and used the brick arches as windows and a wall, enclosing the once-courtyard to create an entrance room. The modern entrance was created as well, closing two of the main, old ones. The remodel was done by architect Matt Rhees, and it created a unique style to the building today. The old brick is combined with a modern style produces a distinct atmosphere rarely seen elsewhere. It allows for windows and walls to be enclosed inside, and a recognizable feeling to the building.

The most recent renovation was done in 2009, to revitalize Lindsay Hall, and it was again done by Matt Rhees. The building was almost completely gutted to both create a lighter environment and meet modern building code.

FPC Boise has always played a part in the community. As a church of the community, PFC Boise has historically opened its doors to those in need. It has housed many weddings and dinners in the past. Like most churches, services are offered every Sunday. Historically, it is one of the longest existing churches in Boise.