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Church celebrates 140 years

5/28/2014

By RANDY GONZALES

rgonzales@dailynews.net

The First Presbyterian Church, 2900 Hall, is celebrating its 140th anniversary this weekend.

The church was established in Hays in 1874, five years before a limestone church was constructed. That site, now part of the Ellis County Historical Society, 100 W. Seventh, is the oldest existing church building still standing in Ellis County.

The Ellis County Historical Society Museum will open its doors at 8:30 a.m. Sunday for a short service at the old stone church before parishioners either walk, bike or scooter back to the church on Hall Street at 9 a.m. At 10 a.m., there will be a service, followed by a barbecue and kids' games at 11 a.m. Casual dress is encouraged.

At 7 p.m. Saturday, the Knox Presbyterian youth choir from Overland Park will perform a musical drama at the current church.

The Ellis County Historical Society will have an exhibit, "Church of the Pioneers," featuring the old stone church starting Sunday and lasting through the end of the year. The exhibit mainly will feature old photos and text.

"We have some pretty interesting historic photographs," Ellis County Historical Society executive director Don Westfall said.

Before the stone church was built in 1879, one of the locations members of the First Presbyterian Church met was at Tommy Drum's saloon. The church parsonage was built in 1876, before the church, and services also were held there.

"They existed as a congregation before they had a church," Westfall said.

In 1926, the brick addition to the church was built, and the stone church became an annex. The stone church is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Westfall said he was excited about the historical society's new exhibit.

"It's something we haven't done, which is focus on our own building, which is a historic site in of itself," Westfall said.