First Congregational Church First Location (1835-1894, Demolished 1896)
Near the SW Corner of Columbus Avenue and Washington Street

Congregational Church - Erie County Ohio Historical Society

This ca. 1860-1870 picture shows the building constructed by First Congregational Church on land that is now part of the court house square.  The street in front of the church is Columbus Avenue.  Image courtesy of the Sandusky Library Archives Research Center.

The founding of what is now known as First Congregational United Church of Christ occurred on May 28, 1819, making it the second oldest congregation in Sandusky. The church’s establishment was done under the 1801 Plan of Union, which was a cooperative effort by both the Congregationalist and Presbyterian denominations to jointly send out missionaries who worked to establish churches in what was then the northern Ohio frontier.

Since the church’s congregation did not have a building to host worship services in its early days, it met in a variety of places including members’ homes, the Old Academy Building, and even in local taverns. After working to secure funds for its construction, what became the church’s first location was built in 1835 on part of the property where the Erie County Court House is now located.

The present location of the Erie County Firefighters Memorial is likely the site where First Congregational’s building stood on the court house square.

As was common at the time, the issue of slavery led to a division in the church between its Congregationalist and its Presbyterian members. Some of the church’s Presbyterian members at that time held more moderate views toward the question of slavery, while some of its Congregationalist members where strong abolitionists who participated in the local activities of the Underground Railroad.

This division led the most radical of the church’s abolitionists to leave and to form the Free-Congregational Anti-Slavery Church (or Second Congregational Church) in 1846, but they later rejoined. Some of the Presbyterian members, however, also chose to leave and established in 1853 what today is known as First Presbyterian Church.

After this division the remaining members of First Congregational constructed a larger building around the one it originally built that was completed in 1855, and the church remained in this location until 1894, when the decision was made to clear this public square of all buildings except the Erie County Court House.

This picture taken in the 1880’s shows the public square occupied by the Erie County Court House.  The court house is in the center of the photo.  To the left of the court house is First Congregational Church, which sat very close to the court house and made the square appear crowded with buildings.  The structure with the arched windows on the right side of this picture is the Beatty ChurchImage courtesy of the Sandusky Library Archives Research Center.

After receiving compensation for its relocation, First Congregational vacated this building and it was demolished in 1896. To read more about the second location of First Congregational Church, click HERE.