Designated: Landmark Building Exterior
201 Washington Street, S.W.
Constructed: 1885 (Main Church)
Located on one acre of property in downtown Atlanta, the Central Presbyterian Church complex consists of four attached buildings: the original church, the Campbell-Eagan Educational Building, the Rand Chapel, and Oglesby Building. At the time this church was under construction, the combined Atlanta City Hall/Fulton County Courthouse to the east was replaced by the Georgia State Capitol, whose cornerstone was laid in September 1885, only one month before the new church was dedicated. The capitol was completed in 1889. With the removal of other churches that once faced the City Hall Square, Central Presbyterian remains the only local institution to face Atlanta's original town square.
The Central Presbyterian Church Complex is significant for its architecture, its role as a religious institution, and its social outreach programs. The two historical architectural components of the complex are the main church and the Campbell-Eagan Building.
The original 1885 sanctuary was designed by Edmund G. Lind in the Gothic Revival style. The church posses high artistic values and high quality craftsmanship.
The main facade of the original church is rough limestone, with plain brick on the others. It has a high bell tower with a pyramidal roof on the north and a truncated tower on the south. The sanctuary retains its original stained glass windows.
The architect, Edmund G. Lind, was an English born and trained architect who spent about a decade in Atlanta. He was a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects when he designed this church. Only one other example of his work in Georgia survives, the Gwinnett Courthouse in Lawrenceville.
The Campbell-Eagan Educational Building (1925) replaced a 1906 Sunday School Building. It has a brick exterior and a slate roof.
The Educational Building was designed by the firm of Dougherty and Gardner of Nashville. Edward E. Dougherty (1876-1943), an Atlanta native, studied at L'Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris and was noted for his church buildings, including the Druid Hill's Baptist Church in Atlanta.
The Rand Chapel was erected in 1950, a gift of Fred L. Rand. It was designed by the Philadelphia firm of Thomas and Wagoner. The Chapel is open to the public all day, everyday, to provide a place to meditate or accommodate meetings from nearby government offices.
The last building to be erected at this location was the Oglesby Building, named for Dr. Stuart R. Oglesby, pastor from 1930-1958. It houses the church's administrative offices and the Family Clinic.
Originally organized in 1858 by 39 members from the Presbyterian Church of Atlanta, Central Presbyterian held its first worship services in the Atlanta City Hall. The original church, constructed in 1860, survived the Civil War. It was demolished, however, to make way for the present, larger church that was constructed in 1885.
In 1885 Rev. G.B. Strickland established outreach programs to all areas of the city by launching a dozen mission schools and five new churches. In 1907 the Brotherhood Class founded the Atlanta Union Mission to provide safe lodging and meals to transient men. The church established the Baby Clinic in 1922 to provide free medical service to children of needy families.
During the 1920s and 1930s the flight to the suburbs began to affect the church membership, but in 1937 they made a commitment to stay in the downtown area and continue to serve the community. From this commitment came the title for the book on the church's history, The Church That Stayed (1979).
During the 1960s, the church provided shelter and food to civil rights workers, to people from all over the country attending the funeral of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., to those attending the memorial for Dr. King a year after his death, and to farmers who came to Atlanta on their way to Washington, D.C. to express their grievances.
Central Presbyterian Church, as it enters the second century in its original edifice, continues its role of community commitment and service established nearly a century ago.
Daniels, Irma. "Central Presbyterian Church." Historic Property Information Form, May 29, 1984. On file at the Historic Preservation Section, Department of Natural Resource, Atlanta, Georgia.
Smith, John. The Church That Stayed. Atlanta: The Atlanta Historical Society, 1979.
Group I (2) (3)
FINDINGSThe proposed nomination of Central Presbyterian Church meets the above-referenced criteria for a Landmark Building or Site as set out in Section 16-20.004 of the Code of Ordinances of the City of Atlanta