First Baptist Church Significant Events

1821 Shiloh Baptist Church

Shiloh Baptist Church was founded in 1831. In 1845, the church moved to property between Main and Bradford Street and changed its name to Gainesville Baptist Church. A fire destroyed the wooden building, and a new brick building was built. The name was again changed to The First Baptist Church of Gainesville in 1900.

Another building was built downtown on the corner of East Washington and Green Streets and dedicated in 1909. The church roof and dome were wrecked during the devastating tornado of 1936 that went through the center of town. In 1942, the Sunday school building was used by the Red Cross for its blood donor program during WWII.

Thinking that the streets around the church were getting too crowded, there were plans to move north “out of town.” In 1956, fourteen acres of land were purchased bounded by North Bradford Street, Dixon Drive and North Green Street.

On Friday night, February 12, 1960, a devastating fire destroyed the sanctuary. Arson was suspected.

After the fire, additional property from the Herbert H. Dean estate was purchased and the current church building was built. The first service in the new sanctuary was held on September 16, 1962.

1960 Fire

Over the years, the Family Life Center and the Banquet Hall have been added to the campus. The Sanctuary was renovated, including the addition of a balcony; the Chapel was renovated; children’s and youth spaces were constructed in the lower level of the Banquet Hall.   By Jo Cosper