First Congregational Church United Church of Christ – 1876
275 Bancroft Street
The First Congregational United Church of Christ building is of the Gothic Revival Style. The pointed arch transom panel above the entry door and the hooded windows are common in the Gothic Revival style that defines the Congregational Church. The front façade has a center window grouping of three windows that were common for churches designed in this style. Another distinguishing characteristic of this style was the use of vertical board and batten wood cladding that was used to express the versatility of the structure.
The Congregational Society was the second to form in the village of Imlay City, which took place early in the fall of 1870. The Sunday school was organized October 16, 1870, with William Townsend, superintendent. In 1872 the school divided, a portion forming the Baptist Sunday school. By invitation of the society, Congregational Council was called which met September 3, 1872 and organized the First Congregational Church of Imlay City. The Society first held services in a small schoolroom. Afterward by the kindness and generosity of Charles Palmer, services were held in the ballroom of the Bancroft House (since burned). After the erection of the public union school building and through the kindness of the school board, services were held there until the completion and dedication of the present spacious church edifice on February 3, 1876. The church was built in 1877 at an original cost of $885 and the parsonage was built a year later – at a cost of about $1,319.07
The church’s pipe organ was dedicated in 1905. Florence Marshall was the first organist. It was built to the exact specifications of the Detroit Fort Street Congregational church organ at a cost of $1200. The tracker action old and faithful (more or less) instrument was retired in 1972. The church also still has the original contract for its construction by the Votteler-Hettche Organ Company of Cleveland, Ohio. Later a computerized organ was purchased.
Below is a portion of a poem written by Mrs. Nelson Haskin in 1972 and it reads:
We’ve got an organ in the church—very finest in the land;
It’s got a thousand pipes or more, its melody is grand!
And when we sit in polished pews and hear the master play,
It carries us to realms of bliss, unnumbered miles away.
It cost a cool twelve hundred and it’s stood the hardest test;
We’ll pay a thousand on it, and the Ladies’ Aid the rest.
In 1957 the church voted to join the United Church of Christ, the newly formed denomination that merged the Evangelical and Reformed Church and the Congregational Christian churches.
The parsonage was erected in 1881 and the parish hall addition in 1955. The exact date of the bell tower hasn’t been documented but the bell is inscribed with the date 1893, manufactured by the McShane Bell Company.