recorded meeting of the congregation took place in 1827 with 15 members
present. The meeting place was a frame one-story structure owned by
James G. Arnold on 2nd Street. A cholera epidemic in 1833, however,
took a heavy toll on the young congregation. The congregation quit meeting
for a number of years. In 1840, James G. Arnold began holding meetings
again – this time in a tobacco warehouse. Arnold donated a lot
on 3rd Street to the congregation in 1843. A frame church building was
quickly constructed on the site.
The congregation was incorporated in 1855 as the Christian Church of
Covington. The incorporators were: James M. Fisher, James C. Thomas,
George W. McDonald, William B. Mooklar and Henry Hathaway.
In 1865, the congregation received a lot on the north Side of 5th Street
west of Madison Avenue for the site of a larger church. The lot was
donated by James G. Arnold. A Romanesque Revival Style church with a
prominent central bell tower and spire was erected on this lot and dedicated
on March 24, 1867. The name of the congregation was carved over the
front entry “Fifth Street Christian Church.” Construction
costs reached the sum of nearly $35,000.
Street Christian continued to prosper until the early morning of March
5, 1893. On that morning a fire broke out in the nearby six-story Fred
J. Meyers Manufacturing Company. By the time the Covington Fire Department
arrived on the scene, the blaze had already spread to the church. Flames
in the church tower reached a height of nearly 100’ feet. By the
time the fire had been extinguished, the blaze had spread to eleven
structures and had caused nearly a half million dollars in damage. The
Fifth Christian Church was almost completely destroyed. Insurance on
the church building covered losses of only $8,000.
The members of the congregation decided to rebuild their church on the
5th Street site. On April 1, 1893, the congregation announced plans
for a new brick and stone church 58’ wide and 90’ in length.
The Cincinnati architectural firm of Dittoe and Wisenall designed the
structure. The bidding process for the new church revealed much higher
construction costs than predicted. The church board directed the architects
to modify the building to cut costs. The resulting plans called for
a brick church with stone trimmings constructed in the Gothic Revival
Style. The cornerstone of the church was laid in a Masonic ceremony
on November 14, 1893 and the building was dedicated on October 14, 1894.
The two-story structure contained Sunday school classrooms and a kitchen
on the first floor and a large worship space on the second. Behind the
pulpit was located two stained glass windows and a large organ. The
interior was lighted with 260 electric lights. At this time, the name
of the congregation was changed to First Christian Church.
the post World War II era, First Christian, like most other Covington
congregations, suffered from urban flight. The congregation, however,
decided to remain in their urban location and serve the community. In
the mid-1950s, the board agreed to finance a complete renovation of
the church building costing $125,000. The Sunday school classrooms were
remodeled and the auditorium was redecorated. A choir loft was constructed
in the rear of the auditorium and the organ was removed to this new
location. Unfortunately, these changes resulted in the removal of the
largest stained-glass window in the building. This window, which measured
24’ x 18’, featured a depiction of the Ascension. Other
changes included the reconstruction of the sanctuary area and the removal
of two smaller stained-glass windows behind the pulpit. The building
was rededicated on October 6, 1957.
By the early 1990s, membership at First Christian began to stabilize
at about 230. At about this time, the congregation supported another
updating of the church facilities. Improvements included an elevator
and chair lift for the elderly and physically impaired. In 1993, the
congregation experienced a first with the arrival of co-Pastors Michael
and Kay Peacock.
First Christian Church is active in the Interfaith Hospitality Network
and various other charitable and social service projects. The church
draws members from Covington and throughout Northern Kentucky.
A Year to Remember 1865-1965; Our Church and Its Programs (Local
History Files, KCPL); Paul Allen Tenkotte, Heritage of Art and Faith
(Published by the Kenton County Historical Society with Assistance from
the Kentucky Humanities Council 1986); Kentucky Times-Star, September
13, 1957, p. 1A; Kentucky Post, March 6, 1893, p. 1, March 7, 1893,
p. 1, April 1, 1893, p. 5, May 20, 1893, p. 4, October 13, 1894, p.
3, April 6, 1991, p. 7K, March 20, 1993, p. 8 and August 5, 2002, p.