First Baptist Church

218 Lauderdale Street, parking lot off Union Street

c. 1904

Friday and Saturday, 9:00 am – 4:00 pm

This extraordinary French Gothic church, circa 1904, has massive oak entry doors and gargoyles around the steeple. The congregation was organized in 1842, but it was not until 1850 that the congregation had its first permanent building.  The current impressive structure was completed in 1904. In the original construction, the Gargoyles served as rain spouts on the massive stone tower.

The mosaic of Mother & Child was designed by Clara Weaver Parrish and made by Tiffany & Company. It was given in memory of Louise Short Woodson. Woodson also gave property to the Alabama State Convention to found the Alabama Widows and Children’s Home.

The interior features beautifully restored woodwork and four windows in the Mallory room that were moved from the original antebellum church. In 1956, balcony seating for 166 was added. One of the splendid windows and the magnificent mosaic were both designed by Selma artist, Clara Weaver Parrish, who had a studio in New York. They were made by Tiffany & Company of New York. A Mr. McKibbon was contracted to build the splendid woodwork within the church. The pulpit furniture is also of gothic design.

This stained glass window of Jesus and the Descending Dove was designed by Clara Weaver Parrish. It was made by Tiffany & Company and was given by Mrs. M.A. Keith in memory of her husband.

The original slate roof was replaced in 2004. A major renovation and updates were made to the sanctuary in 2013. The original heart pine floors were restored, as well as the addition of a custom-designed chandelier and sconces. The pews were restored and a new screen for the organ pipes was installed.

First Baptist’s energy is such that it has produced a rash of sister churches over the years. Among these are First Baptist Church on MLK, Jr. Street (1894), Central Baptist (now Valley Grande) (1896), West End Baptist (1943), Northside Baptist (1944), Water Avenue Baptist (1945), Selmont Baptist (1946), Elkdale Baptist (1952), Fairview Baptist (1956), and Summerfield Baptist (1973).

 

Information and some photographs were taken from the First Baptist Church of Selma website.