Charlottesville Presbyterian Church

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Charlottesville Presbyterian Church when it stood on the southwest corner of E. Market and 2nd St. NE. (c. 1906)


The South Plains Presbyterian Congregation, located on Route 20 North, was established in 1819. This widely scattered congregation represented at least three communities: Charlottesville, Keswick, and Proffit. The congregation met in these three communities, and the session met at the homes of Drury Wood, Captain Wood, Mrs. Campbell, Mr. John Kelly, and Mr. Bowcock. The original South Plains Church building was constructed during the 1820’s and is still in use today.[1]

Regular religious worship and congregational activities were held at the South Plains Church, at Keswick, Bethel Church at Proffit and Charlottesville, for twenty years as a unified congregation. The Elders prior to 1836 were: John Kelly; John Rogers; Thornton Rogers; James 0. Carr; Dr. Thomas W. Meriwether; Boucher Carr; and John Bowcock.


The first Presbyterian Meeting House was built in Charlottesville in 1828, on the corner of Second and Market Streets.

In 1827, a lot at the southeast corner of Second and Market Streets was conveyed by Mr. James Dinsmore to John Kelly, James 0. Carr, and Francis Bowman. The contract for the building of the church was made on December 1, 1827 and signed on behalf of the Church by John Kelly, Francis Bowman, and James 0. Carr. John M. Perry, the architect, and George W. Spooner the builder also signed the contract. The contract stated that the Church should be built for $2,080, and was to be finished during the summer of 1828. Mr. Opie Norris was selected as arbitrator of all differences, and the subscription paper on which some of the subscribers made their subscriptions stated that the Church should be called, "The First Presbyterian Meeting House of Charlottesville."


In 1839, the Charlottesville Presbyterian Church organized as a separate congregation, the Hanover Presbytery ordered the work at Keswick re-established with retention of the old name, South Plains Presbyterian Church. Bethel became a separate congregation in 1870, and survived until 1940, when it was dissolved.

1856 to 1897

The 2nd Charlottesville Presbyterian Church stood on the southwest corner of E. Market and 2nd St. NE. (1856-1897)
Sanborn Fire Insurance Map (c. 1891)

The second Church building, located at the southeast corner of Second and Market Streets, was of a simple style of architecture, consisting of one large audience room, surrounded by galleries on three sides. The building had a steeple in which a sweet-toned bell was hung. When the church was demolished, the bell was sold to Mt. Zion Baptist Church.


The 3rd Charlottesville Presbyterian Church stood on the southwest corner of E. Market and 2nd St. NE. (1898-1956)

The third home for the Charlottesville Presbyterian Church stood on the southwest corner of E. Market and 2nd St. NE. The cost was about $30,000. It was designed by Mr. Charles W. Read, Jr., of Richmond, Virginia, on a lot measuring 100 by 110 feet.

This property was sold to the National Bank & Trust Company in 1953, for $182,500. When a new sanctuary was completed at the corner of Park and Maple Streets (now First Presbyterian Church), the Bank took possession of the property on June 17, 1956 and later leveled the site for use as a parking lot. Until the early 1990's, the original sidewalk was still in place which gave the indication to the casual stroller of where the church entrances had once been used. Source: Albemarle Charlottesville Historical Society (1991).

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First Presbyterian Church at 500 Park Street - northeast corner of Park and Maple Streets (c. 2023 Google Maps)

On November 22, 1954, the congregation of the Charlottesville Presbyterian Church gave its approval to construct a new church at a cost of $403,236.50. The new church was constructed on property the Church had acquired in 1950, on the northeast corner of Park and Maple Streets. The cornerstone of the new church was laid on May 23, 1955. The first service in the new church was held on June 17, 1956.[2]

On October 25, 1964, the congregation voted to purchase the Haden property adjoining the Church on the north. The parcel included 2.29 acres with 200 feet on Park Street and running back to 8th Street. The rear part was later turned into a parking lot. The purchase price was $75000. The house on the property was built around 1845 by Miss Betsy Cole. It was a large brick house. In 1875, Mr. Southall purchased the property. He enlarged and remodeled the house in the Victorian style around 1884, and probably built the carriage house at the same time. The church demolished the house in 1969, but spared the carriage house.[2]

At a congregational meeting on June 2, 1985, it was agreed to raise $695,000 from the membership to construct a 4,000 square-foot addition to the educational wing of the Church. The architects for the addition were Vickery, Moje, Drinkard, and Oakland. The R. E. Lee Construction Co. was awarded the contract for the construction. The total project was estimated to cost $530,000. On October 11, 1987 the new addition was dedicated.[2]


  1. Web. [1]
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Web. The History of the First Presbyterian Church Charlottesville, Virginia, First Presbyterian Church, November 1, 2011, retrieved March 10, 2024.

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