This little building, next to City Hall, has had many names and many tenants, but it started life as Holly Springs’ first Presbyterian Church. The Presbyterian Church was organized in Holly Springs in 1836, by the Reverend Daniel Gray. This church was built a year later, during a national financial panic, which resulted in the rather meager building which lacked many of the normal architectural clues of a typical ecclesiastical building. Architectural historians believe this is one of the earliest “shotgun” building in the South. The church was built for $2,000 (over $42,000 in 2016 dollars).
The church was the epicenter of a great church revival, led by the famous Reverend Daniel Baker, between 1842-1843. Baker was a notable ecclesiastical figure and church builder. This early church was also notable for being one of the very few places in Holly Springs that welcomed African American slaves. Records of the church show that many slaves were received as members in the early years of the church.
The Presbyterians worshiped in this church until 1848. The congregation used the present Miller’s Department Store, on the square, from 1848 until 1860, when the present Presbyterian Church was built on this site in 1860, and this building was moved two lots north, and reoriented to face east. The building was never again used as a church. In the 1850s it was the offices of the South Reporter newspaper. In the 1860s and 1870s it was the office of Major Addison Craft. During the 1930s Mayor Charles Dean owned the building, and it was used by the Farmer’s Production Credit Association in the 1970s and 1980s. During the 1990s it was used as the Chamber of Commerce, and in the 2000s it was the headquarters of the Holly Springs Town and Garden Club, who, along with the Dr. Reverend Milton Winter, helped save the church and generate needed funds during that decade.
The Old Presbyterian Church is one of the 10 oldest church buildings remaining in Mississippi, and is certainly the oldest church structure in North Mississippi. It is a contributing property of the Courthouse Square National Historic District, and has been designated as a National Presbyterian and Reformed Historic Site.
The exterior of the building is largely original, and is a one story shotgun style building, gable-front, with flanking-gable rear ell. Neo-Greek Revival architectural elements, including roof cornice with dentils and pilaster strips were added in the 1970s. Nothing remains of the original interior of the building.
Thanks to Dr. Rev. Milton Winter and Martha Thomas for much of this structure’s history.