First Presbyterian Church in Fairmont has a long and rich history in the area. It had its beginnings in 1785 in Thomas and Nathan Hall settled here. These men were staunch in the faith and finding the settlement without religious services, they started meetings which were held in the homes and barns of settlers for the purpose of studying the Bible and teaching the unschooled to read. Shortly thereafter, the Fleming, Barnes, and Jennings families came to the area and made up the majority of the early membership. Most of these families came from the William Penn settlements on the Delaware River.
In 1815, the First Presbyterian Church of Middletown, Virginia (now Fairmont, West Virginia) was officially organized by the authority of the Presbytery of Redstone in Pennsylvania. It took place in the home of Asa Hall which was located by the mouth of the Buffalo Creek in the Bellview area. Boaz Fleming, Jordan Hall, and Thomas Hall were elected and ordained as Elders. The Sunday School was formally organized in 1821.
From its beginning, a number of ministers have preached and administered the sacraments in our church. The first official pastor of the First Presbyterian Church was Cyrus Beecher Bristol who ministered from 1831-1844. Since that time, we have been served by over 20 pastors. In addition, several sons and daughters of the church have gone into full time Christian service. Eight members of our congregation have represented our church in national and foreign missions in various areas such as Alaska, Korea, India, South America, and Central America.
Our church has been housed in four buildings. The first was a one story structure erected in 1821 on a lot donated by Boaz Fleming. It was on what is now known as Jefferson St. It was made of rough hewn lumber and had two doors for entrance, one for men and one for women. As was the custom of the day, men and women sat on opposite sides of the church.
The second building was erected in 1852. It was considered a very fine building of that day. The first floor was used for the church and the second floor was used as a school and Masonic lodge. This building served the Presbyterians of Fairmont for approximately 27 years and was located where the Wesbanco building now stands. It was surrounded by a cemetery.
The third church was built in 1878 on the site of our present church. It was a red brick structure. In 1890 the back wall was razed and the building was extended to the alley. The new section was about two feet higher than the original section (as shown by the chairs) and used for Sunday School. Sliding doors (handle shown on the right) separated the two sections. The original pipe organ was operated by a large bellows pumped by hand.
In 1916 the current edifice was constructed. The church building is a Gothic style three story split level cut limestone and brick. A 60 foot bell tower greets you at the main entrance at the northwest corner. The focus of the interior is the sanctuary in the form of a Greek cross with a hexagonal stained glass dome as it’s striking centerpiece. The sanctuary seats 5oo people. There are 55 stained glass windows through the church. Recent renovations to the Mohler pipe organ supply the heart of the music program.
The ground floor reception hall and kitchen comfortable seat and prepare meals for 350 people. The ground floor is also home to the parlor for informal meetings, bathrooms, and the boiler room.
The three story southern addition is also home to the large choir room, pastor study, Christian education office, nursery, and classrooms for all grades. The most recent addition houses the church office, handicap assessable entrance, restrooms, and garage.
Parking for the First Presbyterian Church is readily accessible and includes the church’s two private lots, a city owned lot, and a public lot, all which place nearly 200 parking spaces within the city block.