First Baptist Church of Bay City
Founded in 1863, south east corner of Center and Madison avenues.
1875 History. Transcribed - Apr. 2008
The History Commercial Advantages and Future Prospects of Bay City
Published by Henry S. Dow, 1875
FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH.
The about cut represents the house of worship of the First Baptist church, in Bay City. It takes rank with the best specimens of church architecture in the west, being excelled by few, if any, in the State. It is built of brick, in the style of decorated Gothic of the Fourteenth Century. The door-caps, window-caps, water-tables and buttress offsets are of cut stone. The roof is slated in green and black, fancifully patterned, and is surmounted with handsome crestings. Its two spires rising, one to the height of 130 feet, and the other 180 feet, are visible not only from all parts of the city, but attract the eye from a range of three or four miles beyond the city limits.
The extreme length of the building is 140 feet, and its greatest width 72 feet. The audience room is 54x94 feet, finished in black walnut and ash, the seats made comfortable with hair cushions, covered with crimson rep, and the floor covered with a Kidderminister carpet, made to order at the celebrated factory in England. The windows are of stained glass, arranged in highly ornamental designs. The ceiling is frescoed in soft tines. An organ of nearly 1,400 pipes, about and in the rear of the pulpit, adds greatly to the general good effect, both upon the eye and the ear of the worshipper. In the rear of the audience room are church parlors, kitchen, robing rooms, lecture and Sunday-school rooms. From the steam heater in the basement, to the bell of over 3,000 pounds weight in the belfry, the greatest convenience and completeness seem to be very nearly attained. The edifice is an ornament and a credit to the city, as it represents the enterprise, take and liberality of the community at large, as well as of the Society to which it belongs.
The First Baptist church and society was organized July 10, 1863. On the 10th day of the following month they entered their newly-completed house on Washington street, which was almost entirely a gift from the late James Fraser. The first pastor was the Rev. Franklin Johnson, now pastor of the First Church, in Cambridge, Mass. Following him was the Rev. S. L. Holman, whose brief pastorate was succeeded by the ministry of the lamented Patterson, whose dust rests in our cemetery. It was under his eloquent and genial ministration the church entered upon the prosperous career it has since known. The Rev. A. J. Frost, now pastor of the University Place church, in Chicago, served as pastor during the three years following the close of Mr. Patterson’s ministry, and preached his last sermon here February 9, 1861 – the day the new house of worship was dedicated. The present pastor entered upon his labors here in October, 1873.
During the eleven years of its existence the church has grown from 14 members to 232. It is engaged in the work of city missions, and in its various Suday Schools has nearly 350 pupils under instruction. A mission chapel owned by them in the First ward is already inadequate to the wants of the place, and is about to be enlarged. The church is glad to open its doors to the stranger, and extends a cordial welcome to the transient visitor as well as the new resident. The officers of the church are as follows:
Pastor – Rev. Z. Grenell, Jr. Deacons – William H. Currey, Henry A. Gustin, Samuel Drake. Board of Trustees – William Westover, President; C. M. Averell Secretary; Descum Culver, Treasurer; E. B. Denison, Henry A. Gustin.
In 1964, the First Baptist congregation moved into a new church building at 1145 W. Center Ave in Hampton Township (Essexville post office). The old structure on the south east corner of Center Avenue and Madison Avenue was demolished in Decemer, 1965, and has since been used as a parking lot.