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Owensboro Historical Fifth street Walking tour
Item 5 of 12
The Cumberland Presbyterian Church was founded in 1839 by Rev. Samuel Calhoon. The lot at Fifth and St. Ann streets was bought in 1886 for $1500. Construction of the current church began in 1886. It is a great example of the Gothic architecture that was popular at the time and cost $20,000. It had a large lecture room and pastor's study beneath the auditorium. The building wasn't dedicated until 1893. The program announcing the services stated that "the building was erected in 1886 but owing to indebtedness was never dedicated." The other main architectural components are the stained glass windows. The glass was imported from Belgium, and depicts many of the common symbols of Christianity. These symbols include: the lamb, the open Bible, the cross and crown, and the lamp. Also interwoven in the windows are many forms of the cross such as the equilateral, the equilateral diagonal or Cross of Templar, and the cross of ovals or Teutonic cross. Missing from the building today is the belfry, which was struck by lightning in November 1955. The church decided to not replace it, instead placing a Celtic Cross on the tower. In 1909, the church changed its name from Cumberland Presbyterian to Central Presbyterian due to church politics. The name “Central” was chosen in part to match the C.P.C. that labels the front entrance to the church. The next year, they commissioned a new pipe organ to be built by the Pilcher Organ Company in Louisville, which today is considered a historic musical treasure by organ enthusiasts. Their original organ was the first pipe organ in Owensboro.

  • Sketch of Cumberland Presbyterian Church in 1892
  • Central Presbyterian Church from 5th street
  • New pipe organ installed 1909

In 1839 a meeting led by Rev. John Burrows drew some two hundred converts. Some became Baptists, some Methodists and the remainder formed the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. According to an article written in 1916 by James Holmes more than 60 converts were baptized in the Ohio River.

Samuel Calhoun, a native of Henry County, Kentucky, is credited with founding the church. The first meetings were held in the Daviess County Court House and later in the Upper Ward School at Third and Lewis streets. The first members of the church as listed in the 1886 History of Daviess County were "Alfred Grissom and wife, Mrs. Phillip Triplett, James M. Rogers and wife, David Morton and wife, Joseph Weaver and wife, George Newbolt and wife, Mrs. W.W. Chambers, Rev. Samuel Calhoun and wife, Miss E. Griffith, and W.R. Ewing and wife."

The first building was completed in 1841 on the west side of St. Ann street between third and Fourth streets. It cost $3500 and was the first brick structure in Owensboro. Joseph Weaver and his two nephews, James and John Long constructed the building largely by themselves. The early church members allowed other religious denominations to use their building for services until they could build their own. The current church was built in 1886.

In the early 1900's there was a movement to form a union between the Cumberland Church and the Presbyterian Church USA. Many in Owensboro were opposed to the union, however the general Assembly voted in favor of it in 1906. Around 30 members left the Owensboro Church as a result of this action. They formed the new Cumberland Presbyterian Church three years later under O.A. Barbee.

A committee renamed the former Cumberland church the Central Presbyterian Church, USA. They chose this name so the "C.P.C." over the door remained relevant.

A Glimpse of the Progress of Owensboro. Owensboro, Kentucky. New Inquirer Publishing Company, 1892.

Central Presbyterian Church 1839-1989. Owensboro, Kentucky. Central Presbyterian Church.

History of Daviess County Kentucky. Chicago, Illinois. Interstate Publishing Company, 1883.

Holmes, J.M.. "The People's Forum." Owensboro Inquirer (Owensboro) March 28th 1916. Evening ed, 1 sec.4.

Image Sources(Click to expand)

A Glimpse of the Progress of Owensboro

Central Presbyterian Church 1839-1989

Central Presbyterian Church 1839-1989