The Beautiful Churches of Downtown Sulphur Springs

 

In this 1914 postcard, you can see the Methodist Church and its steeple beyond the square on the horizon.

I have wanted to write this post for a long time, but I worried that some may feel I am promoting the beauty of our churches over what happens inside.  Let me assure you, I am so thankful that our community is a Godly community blessed with many faithful, Christians.  However, the structures that serve as gathering spots for our churches are quite frankly beautiful, which is so fitting since something beautiful happens there every hour of every day.

I have a pretty good collection of historical photos of our downtown churches, but I am also sprinkling in a few of my photos of the modern structures.  I have old postcards of three downtown churches (First Baptist, First Methodist and First Christian).  I have included recent photos of those three churches as well as an additional downtown church that is absolutely beautiful (First Presbyterian). Like a wedding cake or a church dress, these churches show off the best of God given talents of the workers who designed, built and maintained them.

Of course, many of these structures (or their replacements) still serve as anchors to the downtown.  So, pretty much, there is visual interest and beauty everywhere you look downtown.

Sadly, some of the historic church buildings no longer exist.  It hurts me to think of the loss of architectural detail, history, and heritage our community experiences each time a historic structure is razed.

Sulphur Springs has many lovely churches all over town, but these are the older church buildings that were/are in the downtown area.  Unfortunately I do not have any historical photos of the other churches.  But, I am always hunting for old Sulphur Springs pictures and postcards!

I hope you enjoy these photos.

First Baptist Church:

According to the website, https://www.americantowns.com/place/rehoboth-baptist-association-sulphur-springs-tx.html, the First Baptist Church of Sulphur Springs was organized in 1859.

Reads: Babtist Church Sulphur Springs, Texas. The postcard was cancelled on August 14, 1909.
This postcard of the First Baptist Church was cancelled in 1915. Notice the dirt street.
The First Baptist Church. The postcard this image was taken from was cancelled in 1948. The stained glass windows are open on both the West and North sides of the building.

 

The current First Baptist Church building, at the corner of College Street and Oak Avenue.
The Oak Avenue side of the First Baptist Church. I love the old sign!
I did not see a historical marker. This was all I found.

 

First Christian Church:

First Christian Church probably around 1915.

 

The current day First Christian Church.

 

The Texas Historical Commission plaque on the First Christian Church reads:

In the 1850s, disciples in the pioneer town of Bright Star, also known as “the Sulphur Springs”, gathered for religious meetings at neighbors’ homes and in a vacant store.  Two evangelists, the Rev. Charles Carlton and the Rev. J. M. Baird, organized this congregation in 1870.  Joseph Hooten, a church elder, acted as interim pastor until the arrival of the first full-time minister the Rev. Lawrence W. Scott, who served 1871-1879.

Shortly afterward, this fellowship purchased, in partnership with the First Baptist Church, one-half interest in a white frame sanctuary being vacated by the Methodists. The congregations worshiped on alternate Sundays.  The disciples sold their share to the Baptists in 1884 and constructed a separate church to accommodate the growing membership.  This was a clapboard building in the gothic style with a steep roof, tall arched windows, and a central bell tower and spire.

Under the leadership of the Rev. Dr. Cephas Shelburne, a larger white brick sanctuary was completed in 1914.  Classrooms were later annexed and a two-story house on a lot adjoining the church property was purchased for an education building.  In 1962 a new sanctuary replaced the old church structure.

 

First United Methodist Church:

The First Methodist Church as photographed on a postcard with a 1908 cancellation. Are those hitching posts for the horses or a fence?
This photo is very similar to the 1908 photo, but this shows sidewalks. The 1908 postcard did not have the sidewalk.
This 1909 postcard shows the First Methodist Church from a different angle (top left). It appears to be a very deep building.
This postcard of the First Methodist Church was cancelled in 1912.
This postcard from 1940 shows the building as we know it today.
A current day view of the First United Methodist Church. I wish the powerlines weren’t there.
The plaque from the Historical Commission.

The plaque reads:

Established in 1950 by the Rev. Pleas B. Bailey, this Methodist congregation erected the first church building in Sulphur Springs about 1852 on a site in the “Spring lot” which surrounded the town’s mineral springs.  The property was purchased from Dr. Owen S. Davis, a charter member of the church and founder of the town of Sulphur Springs.  The Rev. J. D. Lynch served as the fellowship’s first resident pastor.   The Methodists shared their original meeting place with the Baptist Church, founded in 1859.  Delegates meeting here in 1867 organized the Trinity Conference, which later became the North Texas Conference, of the Methodist Church.

In 1870 the Methodists sold their building to the Baptists and the newly-formed Christian Church and moved to a larger frame structure on this property, purchased from William J. Johnson.  A brick church building was erected here in 1893-1894.  It was replaced by the present edifice, the fifth building occupied by this fellowship, constructed in 1917 during the pastorate of the Rev. W. D. Thompson.

Active in civic, cultural, and educational activities, this congregation supported Central College, a Methodist Institution which operated here from 1886-1895.

 

First Presbyterian Church:

This building is gorgeous!

The detail is extraordinary.

The Historical Commission plaque reads:

Organized in 1852, this church had eight members with Samuel Davidson as the ruling elder.  A sanctuary erected jointly by this congregation and the Cumberland Presbyterians on Connally Street burned in 1873.  The membership constructed a frame building at this site in July 1882.  The Rev. J. C. Crow became the first resident pastor in 1886 and W. P. McDonald, clerk of the session, kept the first records in 1887.  In 1890 Mrs. Lena Johnson began the ladies missionary society.  The present sanctuary was built in 1920, and an educational facility was added in 1981.  

I hope you enjoyed the bit of history and photos of the downtown Sulphur Springs churches.  There are many things to see and do in and around Celebration Plaza!  Come on down!

 

4 thoughts on “The Beautiful Churches of Downtown Sulphur Springs

    1. Teresa,

      I honestly do not know, but I can see what I can find. I haven’t been there in years! On the church’s Facebook page the “about” section states: St. James Catholic Church in Sulphur Springs, TX was established in 1878. Father Juan Sardinas is our Priest. Another historic congregation in our community! Are you a current or former member there?

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