First Baptist Church


Erected in 1896 on the southeast corner of 6th. Avenue and 8th. Street, this building was
home to Huntington's First Baptist Church for nearly 70 years.  It was badly damaged by
fire and so the congregation built a new structure to replace it. 


HUNTINGTON -- First Baptist Church was organized early in 1872 in a log cabin on Norway Avenue
 near Spring Hill Cemetery by the Rev. Nelson Barnett, Betty Barnett, Caroline King, Walker Fry,
 Murray Jasper, Henry Hunt and W.O. James. The Rev. William "Uncle Billy" Bryant
of Proctorville, Ohio, aided the founding members in starting their new church.

At first the young congregation rented space to worship. In 1879-80, it was in a
small church building in the 800 block of 8th Avenue. In 1896, it constructed
 a larger building on the southeast corner of 6th Avenue and 8th Street.

Nelson Barnett was the church's first pastor, serving about 10 years. He was followed by
 William E. Simpson and then I.V. Bryant (shown in the accompanying photograph).
Rev. Bryant served at the church's pastor twice, first from
1888 to 1891 and then again from 1906 until 1923.

In 1965, the congregation decided to undertake a major renovation of their old building.
 But before work could begin, the church suffered a damaging fire. So, instead of
 renovating the building, the congregation built a new structure. Until it could
be completed,worship services were conducted at Ohev Sholom Temple,
five blocks away. The new 15,756-square-foot building cost $250,000
 to construct. It houses a 350-seat sanctuary, a fellowship banquet
 hall, classrooms, a choir room, meditation chapel
 and administrative office space.

Over the years, members of First Baptist have played important
 roles in Huntington's African-American community.

Footnote: In October of 1872, another Huntington congregation was organized
and named First Baptist Church. At a business meeting on June 29, 1897,
 the other congregation changed its name to Fifth Avenue Baptist
Church. It did so in deference to the African-American
 Baptists whose First Baptist Church was organized
earlier than that of the white Baptists.


Note:  This Article and picture appeared in the Herald-Dispatch Newspaper on Apr. 17, 2017.


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