First Presbyterian Church, Holyoke, Mass

The First Presbyterian Church, at 237 Chestnut Street in Holyoke, around 1892. Image from Picturesque Hampden (1892).

The church in 2017:

The First Presbyterian Church of Holyoke was established in 1886, with an initial membership of 77 people. James M. Craig was ordained as the first pastor, and the congregation worshipped in several different locations over the next two years. However, the church soon outgrew its temporary quarters, and in 1887 it acquired this property, at the corner of Chestnut and Cabot Streets. Construction of the church building began in September, and the first services were held here less than a year later, in August 1888. It was formally dedicated on March 5, 1889, in a ceremony that included a sermon by the Reverend John Hall, the prominent pastor of the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church in New York City.

Contemporary descriptions of the church do not mention an architect, but it features a Romanesque Revival-style design, which was popular for churches of this period. The exterior was built primarily of granite, but it also included contrasting brownstone trim that gave it a polychromatic appearance. The Chestnut Street facade, which is seen here in this view, was almost symmetrical, except for the different-sized turrets on the corners. Like most other Romanesque churches, it also incorporates rounded arches, stained glass, and tall, narrow windows into its design.

The congregation continued to grow over the next few decades, and by the early 20th century it had over 700 members. They would worship here throughout the rest of the century, although during this time the exterior of building was altered, including the removal of the upper part of the roof, and the shortening of the turret on the right side. Overall, though, the building survives as a good example of Romanesque Revival-style architecture, and it is one of many historic late 19th century church buildings that still stand in Holyoke. However, it no longer houses its original Presbyterian congregation. The property was sold in 2002, and it is now occupied by the Centro de Restauracion Emanuel.

2 thoughts on “First Presbyterian Church, Holyoke, Mass”

  1. I have a large silver plate platter engraved to Rev J M Craig from the Presbyterian Society of Holyoke, MA, dated June 18, 1890. Would the church want it?

  2. Hello, I just discovered your comment – and your lovely offer of the platter – here. I suppose you gave up on hearing from anyone at the church. This is not a page that we monitor, but I was looking for some church history and came upon it. If you are still interesting in donating the platter, we would be most grateful. We would also give you a “gift letter” for your taxes. You can reach me at 413-532-6983 on Tuesdays between 10 and 2, and roughly those times on Wednesday. Feel free to leave a message and we’ll be sure to get back to you. Thank you ever so much.

    best wishes, Elder Catherine C. Lee


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