First Baptist/University Baptist Church
2800 University Ave, Charleston, IL 61920

Location History

Church on Fourth and Monroe 1958

In 1832 land was secured from the government by Mr. Nathaniel Parker, which later became the Parker addition. The Baptist people acquired the lot from his son, Daniel Parker, and his wife Dorcas, on September 4, 1857. The first building was erected in 1857 and dedicated in 1858. The picture above is the original building, which stands at the corner of Fourth and Monroe. The trustees at the time of the transaction were: Arthur G. Mitchel, Kinkley, R. Gray, and Benjamin M. Hutchason. The church was remodeled and enlarged in 1895. The Baptists sold the old church building in 1912 to the Erthlite Manufacturing Co. It then was purchased in 1917 by the Holiness Christian Church, now known as the Pilgrim Holiness [as of 1950].

On the early morning of Sunday, December 16, 1951, a policeman on patrol near Five Points noticed a bright light in the sky and found the church on fire. It was 16 below zero at the time. He turned in a fire alarm. When firefighters arrived, the building was well involved in a fire, and the nearest hydrant was frozen. They had to go to 5th & Madison to hook to a hydrant there. They fought the fire for 3 hours in the frigid temperatures. The church was a total loss, including a brand new organ they had just purchased. The cause of the fire was determined to be an overheated furnace.

Charleston First Baptist 1+910
A postcard found for sale on e-bay

Cumberland Presbyterians built the church in 1904. This Romanesque Revival church has a crenelated side tower with corner buttresses, windows, and doors with Gothic pointed arches and a traceried window on its front (west) façade. The entire structure is brick with limestone trim, including the addition to the rear of the church.

The Baptists purchased the building on 7th and Harrison from the Cumberland Presbyterians in 1910. It was remodeled in 1927 and remains the same today.


First Baptists moved to this location, 2800 University, in 1981 and is at this location today.  This building started out with the east half of the building, consisting of a nursery, three classrooms, kitchen, narthex, and sanctuary. Later the west side of the building added three more classrooms, music room, connecting nursery rooms, a much larger kitchen, and a large fellowship hall.


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