History of Blissfield
First Presbyterian Church

The First Presbyterian Church of Blissfield was formally organized in February of 1829, at the home of Hervey Bliss. On February 22, 1829, the Reverend Alanson Darwin traveled through 14 miles of wilderness from Tecumseh to meet with the village founders, Nancy and Hervey Bliss and seven other neighboring pioneers to organize the church. It is the oldest church in the town of Blissfield, the first with a bell in its tower, one of the oldest in the county and was preceded by only four other Presbyterian churches in the state.

The first meetings were held in the open-plan log structure Bliss house, which also served as a post office, justice office, lecture room for temperance meetings, Sunday school and a meeting house. Benches were planks, split from logs, and a chair served as the pulpit. For several years there was no settled pastor, and ministers from the churches of Monroe and Tecumseh would occasionally spend a Sabbath to preach and administer the ordinances. On January 8, 1832, the Presbyterian form of government was formally adopted. In 1834 or 1835, the congregation began to worship in a frame schoolhouse erected in the village.

The pastor from 1845 to1855 was the Reverend John Monteith, a graduate of the Princeton Theological Seminary. Earlier, in 1817, Reverend Monteith and Father Gabriel Richard had been responsible for the founding of the University of Michigan.

Reverend Monteith collected donations to aid in erecting the present structure but several times the work had to be suspended due to a shortage of funds. The ladies of the church contributed through their sewing society and other villagers added to the cause. The building was finally completed in 1849, at a cost of approximately $2,800.

During pre-Civil War times, members of our church were organizing members and officers of one of the first Abolitionist Societies in the state of Michigan.

Since 1849, many improvements and additions have been made to the First Presbyterian Church, including:

  • 1867 - A bell weighing 1,000 pounds was placed in the tower of the church at a cost of $438.23 and is still in use today.
  • 1883 - Extensive improvements were made to the church. The church was moved back from the street 25 feet and raised 20 inches. The church also received carpeting, new stained glass windows and seat cushions.

1898 - The first furnace was put in place and money was raised for the electric lights.

1904 - A chapel at the rear of the sanctuary was added.

1911 - The church received, by bequest, a large brick house at the corner of Maple an Franklin Streets, which was used as a manse for nearly 50 years.

1913 - Repairs and improvements included hardwood flooring and new aisle and platform carpeting. New pews and wainscoting were added, along with a new arrangement of the platform.

1929 - The church observed its centennial. The Moller pipe organ was installed and dedicated.

1953 - The Fellowship Center was completed and dedicated.

1960 - The present manse was built on the site of the old manse and dedicated in June.

1965 - The sanctuary was redecorated.

1966 - The church was designated as a State Historical Site and a historical marker erected.

1971 - The church was designated as a National Historical Site and was included in National Register of Historical Places.

1978 - A church office, nursery, and storage room were added.

1985 - A new heating plant was installed, steps leading to the sanctuary were replaced and a handicap ramp was added to the Fellowship Center.

1989 - Vinyl siding was added to the exterior of the structure.

1991 - The congregation and friends donated new sidewalks. The narthex and sanctuary were redecorated and a new roof was completed. In September, the Blissfield Historical Society selected the First Presbyterian Church for its "Destination Blissfield Historical Home Tour."

1998 - The Fellowship Hall was remodeled. Two new classrooms, a lounge, folding partitions, handicap-accessible restrooms, carpeting, and a new kitchen were added.

1999 A Sesquicentennial celebration took place with seven former pastors in attendance.

2002 - A new baby grand piano, a new keyboard and supporting sound system were purchased for the sanctuary. Stained glass windows were restored and installed.

2009 The sanctuary was re-carpeted.

2011 -- Our Moller pipe organ was refurbished and re-dedicated.  The links below are sound bytes from the Re-dedication Service held on Sunday, May 11, 2011.

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