The First Baptist Church of Fairmont was born in mission. It is still in mission today. While
Baptists were among the early settlers in this area, they were apparently not the most predominant religious group,
and their growth was slow. It was not until the close of the 19th century that a definite effort was made to establish
Baptist churches in the county seats of West Virginia, including the growing town of Fairmont.
As early as 1845, attempts had been made to hold Baptist services in Fairmont (as opposed to Palatine on the east
side) and in 1847 an actual church organization was completed for a Baptist church in Fairmont. Around 1850 a lot
was purchased for the building of a meeting house, and the little church was received into the Judson Association
with a membership of 22. In 1853, however, the young church lost its minister and the church organization was dissolved.
Following the Civil War, in the late 1870s, Reverend Pat H. Murray and others preached at times in a downtown location,
leading to the establishment in 1880 of a Sunday School at a Jackson Street location. This school operated off
and on for thirteen years until it led to the actual organization of the First Baptist Church.
As a result of the efforts of the Baptist State Mission Board and of the American Baptist Home Missionary Society,
Reverend G.M. Shott came to Fairmont in July 1892 to work with the Fairmont Baptists, and this led to the establishment
of our First Baptist Church in May of 1893 with over thirty charter members. Reverend Shott remained for several
years as the minister of the new church.
Growth of the new church was rapid, and by 1900 there were over180 members. A new church building was constructed
and occupied in 1895 at the corner of First Street and Walnut Avenue. In 1902 a ten room parsonage was erected
next door to the church, in 1907 a basement was added to the church building, and in 1914 a large addition was
added to the back of the church building. In 1929 the parsonage was converted into an educational building, and
in 1935 a second parsonage was purchased at 912 Eighth Street.
The First Baptist Church has been in mission during its entire lifetime. A mission chapel was built at Tenth Street
and Virginia Avenue in 1901, and for a number of years a Sunday School was also organized and operated in Rivesville.
First Baptist Church also assisted in organizing a Black Baptist Sunday school that led to the organization of
the Mount Zion Baptist Church.
In 1915 a lot was purchased at the corner of Fairmont Avenue and Fourth Street for a new church building, but these
plans were delayed by World War I. Later plans for a new church building were abandoned due to the Great Depression
of the 1930s. Ground was purchased in 1940 at the corner of Fairmont Avenue and Ninth Street for the new building,
but once again the plans were delayed due to war. Finally, construction was begun in 1953 for the present building.
The last service in the old building on Walnut Avenue was held on Easter Sunday, April 18, 1954, and the first
service in the new building was held on July 18, 1954. On Thanksgiving Sunday, November 19, 1967, a note burning
ceremony was held celebrating the retirement of all debt on the new building. Membership was round 900 when the
new building was occupied.
Growth continued as a dominant factor of First Baptist Church with the new building, so shortly after the debt
had been cleared plans began for an educational facility. In 1974 construction was begun for an educational addition
that was ready for occupancy on Christmas Sunday 1974. To enable our roots to spread further and to adequately
utilize the new addition, a Child Development Center was established in 1975 that remains in full operation.
In 1980 a Digital Computer Organ was installed in the sanctuary and 1983 the parsonage was moved to its present
location at 904 Farms Drive. Additional property has been acquired adjoining the church property, including the
Harr house on Farms Drive in 1989, for which permanent use has yet to be established. The church now owns around
four acres of choice property at Fairmont Avenue and Ninth Street.
In 1987 the congregation was a leader in the "Alive in Mission" national fund-raising campaign, far exceeding
its goal, true to our missionary heritage. At the age of 100 years, the growth of God's Kingdom through the First
Baptist Church of Fairmont goes on and on! -E. Murray Taylor