HISTORY OF SOUTH FRANKFORT PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH
South Frankfort Presbyterian Church can trace its roots in Franklin County back to 1795 when the Hogsett Church, later known as Upper Benson Church, was organized in the home of Thomas Paxton.
Its membership depleted by deaths (including Paxton’s in 1844) and migration, Upper Benson Church disbanded in 1848. Some members went to Frankfort or Lawrenceburg churches but the greater part joined Lower Benson (by then renamed Franklin).
In his history of Bridgeport, Willard Rouse Jillson said the Franklin Church “gradually” lost membership during and after the Civil War … the primary trouble was the question of slavery, engendered by civil strife. Most of those who left the church were of Northern persuasion. They came, family by family, to Frankfort and many became members of the First Presbyterian Church.
Others began to meet in the Turner School House, Second and Shelby Streets. The Rev. A.M. Frazier, pastor of two Woodford County churches, ministered to the group.
Our church’s present site at Third and Steele Streets was purchased in 1880 for $1,400 and plans were made for a church building.
On May 27, 1884, 31 members of the new church petitioned the Presbytery of West Lexington for admission, although later that year presbytery boundaries changed and the church became part of the Louisville Presbytery. The first pastor was Robert E. Caldwell.
The first church building was a gray frame structure containing a “large one-room auditorium, with a small offset room in the rear for the infant class.” Sunday School classes met “here and there” in the auditorium. The building was heated by two coal stoves.
The brick building dedicated in 1904, as seen from the Steele Street side, resembled today’s structure in overall appearance.
Eventually, more Sunday School space was needed, and an annex was built behind the sanctuary. James Montgomery, Judge J.P. Hobson, and Judge William T. Fowler were key leaders in this project. The annex, completed in 1924, contained separate Sunday School rooms, a kitchen and an assembly room.
The addition which houses our present Fellowship Hall and Sunday School rooms was completed in 1964, and parts of the earlier annex were converted to office space. This was done during the term of our longest-serving minister, the Rev. John L. Hunt.
From 2000 to 2003, the church underwent major renovation in the sanctuary and adjacent buildings. The distinctive South Frankfort Cross in the sanctuary symbolizes the renewal of our church.
South Frankfort Presbyterian Church has a long record of significant mission support in the community and region. Among a host of mission outreach activities, our church currently provides volunteer workers and financial support for the nearby Kings Center, which conducts tutoring, Bible study, recreation programs and field trips for South Frankfort residents. The Resource Office for Social Ministries (R.O.S.M.) receives significant support, as do PCUSA mission co-workers Luta and Jeremy Garbat-Welch.
For the past quarter century and more, our church also has had a history of excellence in education and music.
Excerpted from a longer account in January 2001 by Livingston Taylor from articles by Alice Reading.