HISTORY OF THE FIRST PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH
The First Presbyterian Church of Navasota was founded in 1866 by people who worked on or followed the Houston and Texas Central Railroad, which came through in 1859. Early worshipers had no church building, so they met on alternate Sundays in the frame Methodist Church building and in the old frame school. A Classical Revival church was built on the lot in 1876. Records of the Session from August, 1876, state that “church services in our new church building for the first time...." It was a very plain building of native stone. This building settled and developed cracks, so the Reverend William Stuart Red, Pastor in 1891, along with other members pushed for a new building.
The original stone building was razed and the materials were to be incorporated into the new structure. Jesse Youens (architect), Will Youens (carpenter), Ernest Lord (carpenter) and Alexander McFarland (rock worker) were appointed to draw the church plans. Jesse Youens ordered plans from an architect firm in Chicago. The Victorian Revival of High Perpendicular was chosen, which was the last Gothic style produced. This is a functional Gothic: the steep roof transfers weight to the tapered walls (1.5 feet thick at the eaves; 4 feet thick at the foundation) and the buttresses transfer the horizontal thrust to the ground. The roof beams in the sanctuary are of a different style derived from Anglian timbered barns of the middle ages. The crossed and bolted beams are called a “scissors truss”. A pipe organ was installed in 1913 by Henry Pilcher's Sons (Opus 782.6) and was later replaced with a larger instrument built by the Hall Organ Company in 1942. In 1963 a modern educational facility was constructed to replace the older one, which was no longer adequate to accommodate the church school. In 1989 the church acquired the building and property on the north side of the church, providing a new family center and additional Sunday school classrooms.
In 1985 the church underwent an interior and exterior renovation. At this time the smaller windows of the sanctuary were replaced with new stained glass windows in a design compatible with the Schumacher window on the north wall. The shades of rose field glass, in the Schumacher window, have been partially replaced (as a result of damage done by hurricanes and windstorms) with lavender glass as they are no longer able to produce the rose glass. During the restoration a piece of molding was discovered in the SE corner, which had the date of the completion of the church and was signed by Will Youens.
On the night of February 7, 2002, a disastrous fire engulfed the historic sanctuary, weakening its structural hand-hewn Gothic arches, and its contents were partially destroyed or further damaged by water. The pipe organ, Victorian stained glass windows, original pews and pulpit survived; and by the grace of God, a massive historic restoration effort returned the church to His service. Our congregation and the community celebrated a service of thanksgiving and rededication in the restored sanctuary on Palm Sunday, 2003. As a dedicated community of believers, the First Presbyterian Church of Navasota continues its ministry of Word, music, sacrament, service and witnesses to our faithfulness to our God and Savior.