Octagon House Museum • Hudson Wisconsin

Hudson’s First Baptist Church

First Baptist Church by Randy PennerThe old First Baptist Church at the corner of Third and Vine Streets is the oldest church building in Hudson. The Baptists were the first religious group to formerly organize in Hudson. They met in May 1852 under the leadership of Rev. S.T. Catlin with a membership of eleven. They held their services at the house of Deacon Martin. Property at the corner of Third and Vine Streets was acquired and they built their first house of worship that same year at an expense of $1,000; size, 22×40. This original building was moved in 1866 to the corner of Fourth and Elm Streets (724 4th Street), still stands with many alterations as a private residence.

The First Baptist Church, at 309 Vine Street was built in 1866 by one of Hudson’s most prominent builders and architects, Ammah Andrews, and has the distinction of being Hudson’s oldest church still in use. The church parlors and dining room addition were built in 1890 by the late Mrs. John Comstock at a cost of $5,500.

This church opened in 1866 and that was the year of the big fire in Hudson. Most of the downtown was burned up and people tried to rescue important documents, papers, business items and paraphernalia out of al the burning buildings. The then new Baptist Church was filled with ruminants of the fire.

The bell purchased a year later in 1867 from Troy, N.Y. is also the oldest bell still being used in Hudson.

Electric power came to the building in 1893 when Christian Burkhardt, an early entrepreneur in electric power brought electricity to the church. His partner James Andrews was a member of the church and so the church was the first building in Hudson to have electric lights.

Another treasure in the church is the historic Jardine pipe organ, built in 1864 in New York City, it is even older than the church. The second-hand pipe organ was acquired in 1872 and after serving the church for 100 years, Dr. Kim Kasling discovered the organ to be one of the finest organs, probably the oldest in the mid-west and still working. It took many years to raise the money, to have Casey Marrin restore the organ authentically to its original condition.

Among the foremost pillars of the Baptist church was John M. Hughes, grandson of Judge John S. Moffat, Octagon House owner, who was organist and choir director there for 60 years.

In recent years the church has become a non-denominational house of worship call the Living Vine Church.

 

 

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