The original First Presbyterian Church was housed in a most unlikely location—a carriage house on Whitney Avenue—which eventually became untenable due to safety issues. After ten years, the congregation determined it was necessary to either disband—or to undertake construction of a new church on the site.
Fortunately, the latter was chosen. The congregation was still small, but Providence had arranged for it to include architects Jim Owens and John Dinkeloo, who devised an elegant, functional structure that integrated the finest traditions of ecclesiastical design with the beauty of nature and a simplicity of materials that matched the church’s spirit— and budget. Who else could have imagined 60 telephone poles?
In 2005, the Owens Community Building and Miller Gathering Hall were completed, nearly doubling the size of the church. The new building was designed by architect Christiaan Dinkeloo (son of John Dinkeloo), to complement—yet expand on the theme of the existing A-frame structure. The new space includes a large, air-conditioned Gathering Hall, a multi-use space where 175 can sit at table to share a meal, or a youth group of a dozen can delight in safe and comfortable space to play. The Community Building also houses a nursery, a toddler room, junior and senior classrooms, two lavatories and a fully equipped catering kitchen.
The sanctuary building was dedicated in 1968. A year later Hari Hillibrand and his workmen completed installation of the tracker-action North German organ, a gift of Doug and Jerry Nelson in memory of their mothers. In 1982, a gift from the estate of Roland Copeland and another in memory of Betty Symonds augmented by special contributions from the congregation and friends, allowed completion of the organ with the addition of a final 148 pipes. More than any other single source, this fine organ has directly and indirectly assured the level of music that the church has enjoyed over the years. In the early 1980s, we had the addition of a Grotrian grand piano, given in memory of Jansje Dinkeloo Carey.