History

Church History

churchdrawing#3The First Presbyterian Church of Idaho Falls was organized 112 years ago by eight charter members in a dusty village of just over 1,000 people. That dusty village was then know as Eagle Rock and it centered around a toll bridge. Charles and Martha Ramsay of New York moved to Eagle Rock in 1889 and are the two people most responsible for the birth of our present church. Although the Ramsays attended the Baptist church after moving here, they began to find a few other people who expressed an interest in organizing a Presbyterian Church in the vicinity. The Ramsays, along with six other charter members contacted the Reverend Samuel Wishard, a synodical missionary, and he formally organized The first Presbyterian Church on April 29,1891. Building began that same year on a downtown location at the corner of Shoup Avenue and A street. On August 26 of that same year Eagle Rock became Idaho Falls and the First Presbyterian Church of Idaho Falls was born. The small church, dedicated on April 24, 1892 was built entirely of wood at the cost of $1600. A beautiful 1200-pound bell was purchased for the bell tower, and the ladies of the church held “parlor concerts” to help make the payments. As the church continued to grow, the small church on Shoup began to become cramped. Membership had by then risen to over 260 parishioners. In 1917, during the tenure of Reverend Arthur Richards, the small frame church was sold. This was necessary to provide a down payment on a new building. Having no where else to go, the determined congregation built and moved into a small structure on Eastern Avenue, located just south of the present day Museum of Idaho. Constructed in one week at the cost of $318, it was covered with tar paper and had a sawdust floor. It was too cold in the winter to hold services and so hot in the summer that the tarpaper dripped onto the worshippers.

church-constructionJ.C.Fulton of Uniontown, Pennsylvania drew the plans for our present church. The design selected was in the Greek Classic style and set on a terrace. Ground was broken for the church on July 16, 1918 and the cornerstone was laid April 27, 1919. The dedication Service was held on Sunday April 11, 1920. With the depression of 1921 came a drop in church membership and a debt of $50,000. Dr. Joseph Gulick came to the church in 1923 on a starvation wage, supplementing his income by teaching history at Idaho Falls High School. Between his leadership and the women of the church, who worked tirelessly to raise the money needed, the last payment was made on the mortgage just before the 50th anniversary of the church. During Regular services on Sunday May 18, 1941, the mortgage was burned.

church-1920Because the Atomic Energy Commission chose the Arco desert as the site for its work, a great influx of people came into the Idaho Falls area in the 1950s. The church was once again in need of expansion. The church owned three homes on Ridge Street next to the church. The closest two had been used as manses in earlier years. The house closest to the church was torn down to make room for a new addition. A classroom/gymnasium was added on to the existing building and the basement was remodeled to provide the chapel, lower lounge and a new kitchen. The cornerstone was laid on Sunday, October 19, 1958 and the dedication for the finished work was held on Sunday, May 10, 1959.

325 Elm Street
Idaho Falls, Idaho 83402
(208) 523-0501

Sunday Schedule

Sunday School for All 9:00 AM
Worship 10:00 AM
Fellowship Time 11:00 AM