Church History

The Presbyterian churches in Jacksonville, Ashland, Phoenix, Eagle Point, and Medford were all founded by the Rev. Moses Williams. The location of the first Presbyterian Church was Jacksonville in 1857. The Medford First Presbyterian Church was started on March 29, 1885 just one month after Medford was incorporated as a town. Dr. Edward Payson Geary, who was on the 1885 board of trustees when Medford was incorporated and was the first elected mayor of Medford in 1888, helped found the First Presbyterian Church. There were nine charter members, and they met in Medford’s only school at Ninth and Central. C. C. Beekman, a well-known banker in Jacksonville, donated land on the corner of Main and Holly to the church and that was the location of the first church building. The building was completed in 1887. Eight years later in 1895 the church burned, reportedly, by arson.
First Presbyterian at Holly & Main St. (1896-1927)
A new church, made out of brick, was designed by the architect William Bennet. Mr. Bennet had also designed the Nash Hotel which was a prominent Medford hotel. The steeple on the Church and the corner turret of the hotel were very similar. The new building was completed and dedicated in 1896.

First Presbytyerian on Main & Holly, & Early current building on Eighth & Holly

The congregation grew and by the 1920’s a new and larger building was required. Mrs. Rebecca Finney donated property one block south at 8th and Holly Streets. The present church building was built at that location in 1927. A prominent feature of the new sanctuary was the Reuter electro-pneumatic pipe organ. This organ was in use at the First Presbyterian Church at 8th and Holly until 1987.

The next major change in the church was the building of the Christian Education Wing in 1951. In 1972, the sanctuary was “turned around” to face the opposite direction of the original plan, the balcony removed, and the entrance into the church changed. By 1987 the Reuter Pipe Organ was wearing out. After much study and research, it was decided to have the Schoenstein Company of San Francisco build an organ for the church. The George and Agnes Flanagan’s Schoenstein Electro-Pneumatic organ was installed and dedicated in 1992.
In 2000, a time capsule that had been placed behind the cornerstone of the Christian Education Wing was opened. In it was a church directory and other treasures. In turn, a video tape, pictures, and other items were placed in the time capsule for a future generation to find.
In 2001 the Urban Center II building, the home of the Sarah Corson Child Care Center*, was dedicated. The child care center is a memorial in the name of Sarah Corson who died in Tokyo, Japan in 1997. This young woman was raised in the First Presbyterian Church and loved children. A skywalk, an elevator and a resurfaced parking lot were included in the project. This is the first parking lot that First Presbyterian ever owned.DSC_0094


*See the Sarah Corson Childcare Center page under the Children category for more information.>


References and Information from:
Keating, Kevin. Images of America Medford Arcadia Publishing. 2011
Webber, Bert and Margie. The Lure of Medford–An Oregon Documentary Webb Research Group Publishers. Books about the Oregon Country. 1996