First Baptist Church - 416 Vine Street
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The First Baptist Church of Madison, founded in 1807, has the oldest continuous history as a Baptist church in the state of Indiana. The congregation occupied two different sites on the hilltop before moving to its current location at 416 Vine Street in 1831. The current building on that site is one of the most outstanding Greek Revival structures in Madison. It is still in use and has an active congregation. On June 9, 1853, the cornerstone for this building was laid and the ground floor completed before a financial crunch hit the membership and prohibited continuing the building program. The lower auditorium served as the church sanctuary for the next seven years. Finally in 1860, the present sanctuary building was completed. Several physical additions over the years have made the building more useful and beautiful while maintaining its purity of style. The stained glass windows were placed in 1907 as memorial gifts for the church's hundredth anniversary. In 1901 the Tracker Organ was installed. It was built by A.B. Felegmaker and was originally pumped by hand (and still can be), but was later equipped with a water-powered motor and finally an electric blower. The organ has 756 speaking pipes, a solid white case, ivory face plates and key covers, and ebony sharps. It was restored in 1985 with an effort to retain as much of the builder's original craftsmanship as possible. An educational wing was added in 1964. Over the past century, First Baptist Church has experienced two fires. The first, in 1939, began in the basement area and caused considerable damage to the lower auditorium. The second fire, on July 10, 1987, started in the attic area. While the flames were contained to the attic, the sanctuary and lower auditorium received considerable smoke and water damage. The renovation work took 14 months, during which time the congregation met in the church basement for worship.
|Lemen, Harry, photographer|