Community History – Ludlow – First Presbyterian Church

First Presbyterian Church

The congregation was established in 1867 with 18 charter members. The first meeting was held in the home of Margaret Gillespie. For the first two years, the Reverends John W. Worral and James White took care of the congregation on alternating Sundays. The first elders were Lorenzo Blevin and William Dalton. John H. Bogart and David Johnson served as the first deacons.

The new congregation used the meeting room in the Odd Fellows Hall on Oak Street as a place of worship until 1870. In that year, a new 40 x 60’ brick church building was dedicated on Elm Street. Two years later, a fire destroyed the church. To make matters more difficult, the insurance policy on the building had expired only one week before.

Members began raising funds to rebuild. A new location was selected on the south side of the 400 block of Oak Street. The new Gothic Revival church, complete with bell tower, was dedicated on May 11, 1873.

A parsonage was acquired through a gift of Asa Burton Closson. The Closson family donated the home at 421 Closson Court to the congregation.

Improvements were made to the church building in 1925. At this time, a new pipe organ was installed and stained glass was acquired. Three years later in 1928, a Sunday school addition was constructed at the rear of the church property.

Like many other Ludlow congregations, membership at First Presbyterian peaked in the 1950s at 316. In 1959, the congregation again suffered a loss through fire. In the early morning of October 20, 1959, fire broke out in the Sunday school wing. Investigators determined that the fire was possibly arson (on the following day a suspicious fire destroyed the Duro Paper Bag Co. building).

In July 1960, construction work on a new Sunday school wing began. The new addition contained classrooms, a nursery and office space. The wing was dedicated on June 18, 1961 with appropriate ceremonies.

The 1960s brought great change to Ludlow and the First Presbyterian Church. The lure of the suburbs drew many long-time Ludlow residents to new communities. First Presbyterian began losing members. Membership had declined to 169 in 1970.

By the 1990s, membership had reached a critical stage. First Presbyterian was no longer a small town congregation drawing its members from the local neighborhood. Forty percent of those who attended services at the church no longer lived in Ludlow. The small size of the congregation hampered efforts to find suitable pastors.

First Presbyterian of Ludlow officially merged with the First Presbyterian Church of Covington/Fort Wright in 2000. The new community was christened the Community of Faith Presbyterian Church. The building on Highland Avenue in Fort Wright is used for services. The former First Presbyterian building in Ludlow is utilized for area outreach services. One such outreach service was CLASP (The Campus Ludlow After School Program. CLASP offers study assistance, snacks, crafts and other activities for students attending Ludlow Independent Schools.

Kentucky Post, November 5, 1992, p. 4k; Ludlow News, June 4, 1939, p. 9.

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