Known for his initiation in the construction of many other elegant structures in the city of St. Augustine, Henry Flagler was the source of funding and inspiration behind this immense church. It is also the first Presbyterian Church in the state of Florida.
History of Memorial Presbyterian Church
The Presbyterian Church was established in 1824 by a minister from Georgia by the name of Henry McWhir. Although the original church was not the one seen in this current location. Over the next several decades the small congregation grew and evolved. New additions were made to the small structure and slowly more locals began to attend the service.
During the Civil War, regular church services were not held inside the building as it was being used for military programs. Henry Flagler and his family were members of the church.
Henry Flagler was a prominent businessman in the area. In fact, he was the founder of Standard Oil which was based out of Ohio but also the constructor of the Florida East Coast Railway.
The current sanctuary building that is seen today was built in the late 1880s and early 1890s by gracious donations from Henry Morrison Flagler. After the death of Flagler’s eldest daughter he made it his goal to create the magnificent sanctuary. In fact, the exterior bares a memorial script to his daughter who perished giving birth to his grandchild. The Flagler family continued to attend the church and are buried in a mausoleum at the site.
The building is designed from a combination of several European architectural styles. The church was officially designed by a firm from New York City and cost a total of $250,000. The famous copper dome was imported from Italy.
The church was dedicated in 1890 and various notable people were in attendance. Of these people include United States Vice President Levi Morton and First Lady Caroline Harrison. The beautiful stained glass windows were not complete at the time of the dedication ceremony and took nearly a decade to finish.
The church has been noted for its historical and architectural significance. In 2017, Hurricane Irma damaged the cross and copper roof which had to be repaired.
Visiting Memorial Presbyterian Church
This church is listed as one of the religious wonders in the United States.
Located near Flagler College in St. Augustine, the church is open for tours daily. For more information visit https://memorialpcusa.org/visitors/tours/.
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