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Hopewell Museum

First Christian Church

Marker #2090, “First Christian Church,” Paris, 911 High St, in Bourbon County.

Historical Marker #2090 in Paris marks the current location of the First Christian Church in Paris. Its location on a ridge near the center of town, makes the red-tiled octagonal towers visible from a considerable distance. The main auditorium is a large and high octagon and the ceiling incorporates a large circle and several convex and concave vaults. It is one of the most outstanding Richardsonian Romanesque buildings in Paris. A stone-faced addition was added across the rear of the church, but otherwise the 1902 building is virtually intact.

Richardsonian Romanesque is a style of Romanesque Revival architecture named after architect Henry Hobson Richardson, whose masterpiece is Trinity Church, Boston (1872–77), designated a National Historic Landmark. It emphasizes clear, strong picturesque massing, round-headed “Romanesque” arches, often springing from clusters of short squat columns, recessed entrances, richly varied rustication, blank stretches of walling contrasting with bands of windows, and cylindrical towers with conical caps embedded in the walling. The Paris Christian Church exhibits all of these details.

The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) began in the 1800’s out of the Cane Ridge Revival. Barton W. Stone and Alexander Campbell were partly rebelling against dogmatic positions that kept different denominations from taking the Lord’s Supper together, and they objected to the use of creeds as tests of “fellowship” within the church. “Christians” was Stone’s name for the movement, and Campbell chose “Disciples of Christ.” The two groups and their names united in 1832. Disciples have a long heritage of openness to other Christian traditions and are frequently involved in cooperative and ecumenical work. Disciples helped organize the National and World Councils of Churches. [www.disciples.org]

In 2011 there were 661,544 members in 3646 congregations. Along with other mainline Protestant denominations there has been a decline of 18,019 members and a loss of 68 congregations since 2008. [Wikipedia.org]

First Christian Church Exterior

Exterior of the Christian Church. (Richard Smith, photographer)

The church was built in 1902, and is a prominent feature in the skyline of Paris.

First Christian Church Interior

Interior of the Christian Church. (Mike Spivey, photographer)

Looking toward the pulpit from the opposite door.

Another church interior photo

Interior of the Christian Church. (Mike Spivey, photographer)

Looking toward the back of the church from the pulpit.

The Thomas Sisters

The Thomas sisters. Collected by Jeanine and Berkeley Scott, Paris, Kentucky. Images of America. Arcadia Publishing, 2002, p. 61.

Emily Tubman and Louisa Keiningham became the wards of Henry Clay when their father, Edmund Thomas died. Emily’s husband died in 1836. The people she enslaved had the choice of being paid servants or being freed to go to the Liberian colony on the west coast of Africa. Of the 144 people she enslaved, 75 chose to stay and the rest went to Liberia. The sisters were members of the Paris Christian Church. Mrs. Tubman started a free school in Paris behind the Christian Church at its old location and donated to orphanages, colleges, and Frankfort and Paris Christian Churches. Emily died in 1885.