Community History – Covington – Madison Avenue Presbyterian (Second Presbyterian Church)

Community History - Covington - Madison Avenue Presbyterian (Second Presbyterian Church)

The Second Presbyterian Church can trace its history to the year 1854. On December 25, 1854, a group of Presbyterians who lived in the southern end of the city gathered to discuss the establishment of a church in their community. The congregation, known as the Second Presbyterian Church, was officially organized on February 8, 1855, with 28 charter members. These charter members were primarily former members of Covington’s First Presbyterian Church.

In March 1855, a lot on the north side of 9th Street was purchased as a site for a future church. Until a new building could be constructed, the congregation met in a building at the corner of Madison Avenue and 9th Streets. The congregation built a small lecture room on their 9th Street property in 1855. The lecture room was dedicated on December 23, 1855. In 1861, a permanent church hall was construed as an addition to the lecture room. The Reverend Albert Shotwell served the congregation as pastor from 1856 until 1857.

The congregation continued to grow until the year 1880. On September 21, much of the church property was destroyed by fire. The congregation sold the damaged building to the Methodist Church, which established a congregation for African Americans in the rebuild structure. The members of Second Presbyterian Church decided to rebuild their structure on a new piece of property on Madison Avenue south of 9th Street. The new Gothic Revival edifice was completed in 1882. Two years later, the congregation officially changed the name of the church to Madison Avenue Presbyterian. The congregation faced tragedy again in 1884 when their new church building was destroyed by fire. Fortunately, the building was covered by insurance. A new Gothic Revival edifice was built within the walls of the former structure. The architectural firm of Crapsey and Brown designed the new building. The first services were celebrated in the church on November 21, 1886.

Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church flourished in the years before the First World War. In 1916, a parsonage was acquired at 1048 Scott Street. This parsonage was replaced in 1922 when the congregation purchased a new home for the pastor at 1218 Audubon Road in the neighboring suburban community of Park Hills.

The 1920s witnessed the construction of a large addition to the south side of the church building. That year, a two-story wing containing a kitchen, dinning room and classrooms was built to accommodate the growing congregation. Construction costs reached $30,000. By 1945, membership totaled 300. By the mid 1950s, however, membership began a steady decline. In 1955, the Presbyterians living in the suburban communities southwest of Covington established Lakeside Presbyterian Church. The congregation grew from 70 charter members to 221 members by 1959. In 1961, the members of Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church decided to close their building and merge with Lakeside. The merger took place on February 16, 1961. The property on Madison Avenue was eventually sold and the old church building demolished.

Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church Centennial 1855-1955 (Kenton County Public Library Collection); History-Directory, Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church 1898 (Kenton County Public Library Collection); Dedication Booklet, Lakeside Presbyterian Church 1963 (Kenton County Public Library Collection); Souvenir Bulletin The First Worship Service of the Merged Lakeside and Madison Avenue Presbyterian Churches, February 19, 1961 (Kenton County Public Library Collection); Paul A. Tenkotte, Downtown Covington Churches (Covington, KY: Kenton County Historical Society 1986); Kentucky Post, July 3, 1922, p. 1.

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