First Presbyterian Church historical marker

First Presbyterian Church (H-100)

Organized 1816. Site of Constitutional Convention of 1835. State Supreme Court met here, 1831-40, after Capitol fire. This building completed 1900.

Location: Salisbury Street at Morgan Street in Raleigh
County: Wake
Original Date Cast: 1990

Prior to 1816 the Presbyterians in Raleigh met in the House Chamber of the Capitol. On January 21, 1816, they assembled to organize the First Presbyterian Church of Raleigh. No minutes remain for that meeting, but the date can be reconstructed from published accounts. The first minister was William McPheeters, who had come to the city in 1810 as principal of Raleigh Academy and who would remain at the church until 1830. The congregation purchased a lot on the southwest corner of Salisbury and Morgan Streets and, by 1818, had erected a brick church building. The structure was financed through the sale of “permanent rights” pews. The original membership was about forty, with congregants of both races. In 1825 a frame session house was erected alongside the sanctuary. Construction on the present church building commenced in 1899.

On June 21, 1831, the original State House, situated on Union Square diagonally across from the church, was destroyed by fire. Within twenty-four hours the members of First Presbyterian offered use of their facilities to the state. Through 1840, and the completion of the new Capitol, the judges of the North Carolina Supreme Court met in the session house. (During that time, they also met elsewhere in Raleigh, such as the home of Dr. Fabius Haywood, 1835-1836.) The church building was also the site of the state Constitutional Convention, June 4-July 11, 1835.

Elizabeth Reid Murray, Wake: Capital County of North Carolina, Vol. One: Prehistory through Centennial (1983)
James Sprunt, Windows of the Word (1958)
Raleigh Register, February 16, 1816; June 23, 1831; and various issues, 1835
First Presbyterian Church of Raleigh website:

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