Church History

First Presbyterian Church is a historic church located here in Racine. It was built in 1852 and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1973. It was designed by architect and church elder—Lucas Bradley.


The First Presbyterian Church was among the first religious institutions to be created in Racine. The church was founded in 1839, two years prior to the official incorporation of the village of Racine. In its first years, it frequently outgrew its established meeting places: first a schoolhouse on Main Street between Second and Third Streets, then the unoccupied upper floor of the town jail. The congregation's first church building was dedicated in February 1843. In 1850, the congregation's pastor, the Reverend T.M. Hopkins, and later his successor Rev. Z.M. Humphrey, solicited funds to construct a larger house of worship on the southern edge of the city. The cornerstone was laid at Seventh Street and College Avenue on May 6, 1851, and the finished building was dedicated June 10, 1852.


The building was designed in the Greek Revival style.  Several women in the congregation provided room and board to the builders who constructed the church. The cost of construction was totaled at $10,600, on top of the $1,200 paid for the land. The church held 156 pews, 138 on the ground floor and 18 in the balcony.

Our steeple has been referred to as the crowning glory to Lucas Bradley's architectural masterpiece.  It was inspired by the London steeples of Christopher Wren and James Gibbs.  It was built in four sections, with choice timber from the Manitowoc area, selected by Mr. Bradley.  Rising 140 feet, it is the oldest surviving steeple in Racine. Survival hasn't always been easy for the old bell tower. Over the years it was struck by lightning twice. Most recently, on July 27, 1973. A Racine Fire Department snorkel unit and a 100-foot aerial ladder strained to reach the burning steeple. Members of the Racine Fire Department threaded hoses up the inside of the spire by climbing up thin boards nailed to the steeple walls, which enabled them to put out the fire. Their quick action is credited with saving our beautiful church from deeper destruction.