Chasing the First Congregational Church, Baltimore

I seem to be drawn to Eutaw Place. When I purchased this steroview by Baltimore photographer and view publisher William M. Chase, I didn’t know the church it depicts, the First Congregational Church of Baltimore, was once located there, between Hoffman and Dolphin streets.

As far as I have been able to determine, the building no longer exists. The church was organized in 1865 and an edifice built at this location in 1866 (Scharf, History of Baltimore City and County, 552). Designed by architect Thomas C. Kennedy, the First Congregational Church building shown here was dedicated on 24 October 1882.

A detailed description in the Sun coverage of the dedication made it possible to identify the church building, characterized by an unusual octagonal center, as that designed by Kennedy:

“The building is of Falls road stone, with red sandstone trimmings. The centre and two sides have high gables, with large windows, filled with colored glass. The auditorium is octagon in shape, 60 feet each way. The entrance vestibules, minister’s study and organ chamber occupy the alternate angles of the octagon, from which they are separated by bold and lofty arches.  The pulpit platform fills a recessed chancel next the chapel, leaving the entire area of the octagon for the congregation. The floor has a gradual incline towards the pulpit, from which the aisles radiate.  The pews are arranged in circles with a seating capacity of 325. The open timber roof is [unreadable] with yellow pine. In the centre of the roof is a ventilator opening to the apex of the roof, through which impure air may be drawn off. Pure air is admitted by vertical tubes” (Baltimore Sun, 25 October 1882).

In 1900, this congregation united with the Associate Reformed Church to become the Associate Congregational Church of Baltimore, which had built a Charles E. Carson-designed church at 24 W. Preston Street (now owned by a Greek Orthodox congregation).

A large part of this block of N. Eutaw is now occupied by a number of ca. 1960s Maryland state office buildings.

6 comments on “Chasing the First Congregational Church, Baltimore”

  1. The Congregational congregation built a smaller building at the rear of the lot in the 1860s then the octagonal one when they had a larger membership. Sadly both were demolished around 1905t to make room for the Cecil apartment building. which still exists on the site. The Congregationalists never made much of a presence in Baltimore as the Methodists, Catholics and Anglicans had. the merger with the Associate congregation in 1900 is interesting as that group had a history of infighting and self division for many decades. The building which was put up just before the merge is now the Greek Cathedral at Preston & Maryland.
    Steve from Baltimore
    (a collector of Baltimore Church info)

    • Thanks for the info! It’s hard for me to keep track of the historical ins and outs of all the different denominations and their shifting locations. Glad someone is into doing that!

  2. Mr. Chase, I don’t know who you are, but you may contact me if you feel I might have info to assist you. I have several newspaper articles…Lynda

  3. Dr. Edward Alexander Lawrence was a special man who was pastor of this church until his sudden death in 1893. I have valuable information to share with his family (ancestors ONLY). If you can prove you are related and that you hold this man dearly as do I, please contact me.

    • Thank you for contacting me, Lynda, I’m not related to the Lawrence family; my interest is strictly in the architecture and history of this church.


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