History of the First Baptist Church of Hartford
Pastor George Cable, of First Baptist Church, West Bend, Wisconsin, began Bible classes in Hartford in March of 1962. The following year, Pastor Cable, along with six couples, voted to organize "The First Baptist Church of Hartford." Authority was given at this meeting to purchase property for a building. A chapel-style building was constructed on the corner of Washington and Rural Streets. Upon completion of this building, the church began regular Sunday services on August 23, 1964.
Pastor Cable served as interim pastor until Pastor Robert Johnson accepted the call as the first pastor and began ministry in January, 1965. During his able ministry, the church prospered. In April 1973, the church voted to purchase the First United Methodist Church, parsonage and parking lot on the corner of Church and South Streets. The following year, Pastor Johnson resigned to take on the challenge of church planting in Wisconsin.
Our current pastor, Reverend Michael R. Gordon accepted the call to serve in May of 1974. The Lord has allowed First Baptist Church to ordain a number of men. Many of our young people have gone on to serve the Lord in areas of foreign and stateside ministries.
History of the Church Building
The original building of “First Baptist Church of Hartford” was constructed in 1857 by the "Methodist Episcopal Church." In 1901 the building was remodeled. A basement was built under the church, a furnace added, and a bell was donated and installed. Between 1910 and 1921, the Methodists and the Congregationalists combined to form a Federated Church. The Methodist Church building was used as a social hall; the Congregational Church building was used for worship. However, in 1921, the federation was dissolved, and the Methodists re-fitted their church building for worship.
In 1928, ground was broken for a new church and parsonage - as you see the buildings today. The structure of the old church building was carefully incorporated into the new structure and veneered with brick. The old church building faced South Street, but the new building now faces Church Street
During the Great Depression, the financial condition of the members deteriorated to the point where they were not able to make the interest payments on the bond issue. A group of “agitated bondholders,” court-ordered the Methodist Church of Hartford to be closed in July 1940. This drastic action shocked and saddened the congregation. They took steps to regain both the church and the parsonage, and services resumed again in September 1941.
In 1958, the Methodist Church purchased what was known as “the old South Side School,” located across from the church. However, the school building was destroyed by a fire in January, 1959 and the area was used for a parking lot.
In July of 1973, The Methodist church building and property were purchased by the First Baptist Church congregation. Significant interior and exterior changes have been made since the purchase of the building.
A new organ was purchased in 2001, which contains harmonics from several European pipe organs. It was built in Holland and was installed in the original cabinet to keep with the historical architecture of the building.
After a rich history of over 150 years, the building continues to serve the needs of the First Baptist congregation for worship and service! The true heartbeat of FBC is not brick and mortar, but rather an assembly of godly, giving, and caring believers who are knit together in love and service for the King of kings! I Corinthians 3:9.