Case Studies

The Uncovered History of First Presbyterian Church

CFX ORIGINAL This 200-year-old church's renovation project discovered pieces of history that they recovered

By Kellye Cooke, compiled by The Christman Company

Built in 1792 in the heart of Downtown Knoxville, TN, First Presbyterian Church was the city’s first church. The iconic and highly visible church takes up an entire city block and played a key role in Knoxville’s storied past. Painted above the altar is the saying “Jehovah-Jireh”, dating to when someone wrote those words in chalk after the church regained possession of the dirtied and damaged facility after the Civil War.

The oldest standing building on the church campus was built in 1903, with additions built in 1920, 1962, & 1988. Over the decades the additions and renovations resulted in limited connectivity within the interior of the building and a lack of ADA compliant exterior entrances and restrooms.

This project addressed these issues, which they hope will help the church to remain relevant for another century in downtown. Reverend Pender said, “We don’t want to build a museum or a monument,” rather they want to have a facility that adds to the life of the city. Worship there is traditional and, while he is pleased others may find what they seek in a contemporary service, the goal at First Presbyterian is to make a traditional service feel vital and current.

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