175+ Years Strong
First Congregational Church, Elkhart was established in 1844 by Jacob Ellis and his family, along with other settlers moving to the area from New England.
The original Meeting House was a temporary space originally occupied by the Methodist Church, the first denomination to establish itself in Elkhart in 1837. First Congregational Church shared this space with First Presbyterian Church.
Meeting House - Methodist Building
"Plan of Union" Church - "Beehive Facility"
Under what was known as a "Plan of Union," First Congregational and First Presbyterian purchased a piece of land at the corner of High Street and 2nd Street where they built their first building together out of stone from the St. Joseph River and local Poplar trees. The finished building was 40' x 70' and had three windows along each side, and was dominated by the bell tower, which was used for calling the faithful to worship as well as notifying the community of extraordinary events such as fire, public meetings, and patriotic gatherings.
In 1869, the Congregationalist broke away from the Presbyterians and formed their own governance. Initially, they met in the homes of church members. With new members joining them, they agreed to hold church at the Baptist Church located at 2nd Street and Lexington. A property committee was formed to locate and secure property in order to build their own church. The lot at 4th Street and Marion was purchased, and with 38 members in the congregation, the cornerstone was laid on 5 June 1872 and was completed and dedicated on 22 December 1872.
4th and Marion
Upon the receipt of a bequest of $16,000 from Arvilla C. Kellogg, the church decided to erect a new building in her honor. They purchased land on the corner of 3rd and Marion, and began construction in the early 20th century. This would become the more permanent home of First Congregational Church, although not the last sanctuary. They had a church school housed in the basement, along with kitchen facilities used for all manner of social occasion and church holiday. the cornerstone was laid on 19 April 1906, and within five months the congregation could meet in the fellowship hall. The building was finally completed, dedicated, and open for use on 3 February 1907.