In February 1869, the United and Reformed Presbyterian congregations of Bloomington formed a union under the name of the United Presbyterian Church and at once resolved to erect a building. They selected for their site the lot at the northeast corner of College Avenue and Ninth Street where the wooden frame R. P. Church stood. R. P. Daggett, an Indianapolis architect, furnished the plans for the new building.
The foundation was laid in the fall of 1869, and on November 9, 1871, members of the community witnessed the completion and dedication of the beautiful church. The two-story, brick building was of the Norman Gothic style and measured 45 wide by 75 in length with a large and stately tower standing out in front in the center of the building. In the tower was a large, double window with a circular top filled with the magnificent stained glass. In the center of the circular top was a large “bull’s eye” filled with the richest colored glass and on which was engraved in a circle the letters “U. P. C., 1870.” On each corner, running up from the ground about 64 feet high, was an octagon turret finished with a beautiful spire on the top.
From the vestibule in front one could ascend the circular stairway to the “audience room” above. This room surpassed in beauty anything of the kind seen in its day. It was about 43 feet wide and 68 feet long, divided into four blocks of pews with a seating capacity for about 450 to 500. The pews were arranged in concentric circles with the pulpit in the center. A commodious “gallery” over the audience room provided additional seating for another 150 people.
This church was destroyed by fire on July 3, 1951. The present church, shown in the picture above, located at 1701 East Second Street, was dedicated on October 12, 1952.
Sources: Bloomington (IN) Progress, November 23, 1871, p. 1; and “United Presbyterian Church,” Monroe County, Indiana, Family Heritage, 1987, p. 22-23.
Blog written by Randi Richardson