HISTORICAL POSTCARDS OF SPRINGFIELD, MISSOURI
First Baptist Church
In 1852 twelve people gathered to organize a Baptist Church in Springfield, which then had a population of about 500. A preacher named Braxton McCord Roberts organized this church, which was the first Baptist Church in Springfield and the third in Greene County. The congregation met in a small brick house on Olive Street in June and July 1852. Next they met in a schoolhouse east of Benton Avenue, then in the Temperance Hall on the corner of St. Louis Street and the Public Square. The following two years were spent in the Methodist Church House and the Reverend Roberts' home.
A new church was finally built in 1861. This first church building was taken over by the Federal authorities for military use later in the same year. The building was used by both sides in the Civil War for various purposes. It was finally returned to the church in 1868. After the war eighteen members of the church gathered and the process of rebuilding began. The original church building continued to be used, with occasional renovations, until 1917 when it was razed.
The large brick church in the postcard was built in 1895 and the 1861 building was moved to the back of the lot and turned to face north. The new church building was constructed at 525 South Avenue, facing east toward South Street. The exterior was made of red brick in a modified Gothic style with a large white steeple. In the front of the building was a magnificent stained-glass window portraying the Sower. The interior of the church contained varnished red oak pews with a choir loft behind the pulpit and a pipe organ with exposed pipes. The ceiling was decorated with exposed wooden beams and large hanging lights. The building held 350 people.
Additions were made to the building in 1905 and 1917. The photograph in the postcard was probably taken shortly after the 1905 addition, as it shows an area on the right side of the building that is not in a photograph of the original building. The postcard is postmarked in 1909 so it was definitely made before the 1917 addition.