By Matthew E. Becher
Originally Published: March 12, 2009 in the Boone County Recorder
A number of churches call Burlington home, including the well-known Burlington Baptist and a handful of other Christian churches. Yet, there is no Presbyterian church in Burlington. However, if you look closely, you will find that the Presbyterians had a presence in Burlington at one time and the church itself is still here. In the 170 plus years it has stood on north Jefferson Street, the building has held everything from a library to fire department. This unusual history bears a closer look.
In the early 1830s, Trustees of the Presbyterian Congregation of Christians called the Burlington Church bought a lot on the east side of North Jefferson Street in Burlington. They paid $1.00 for the lot, located about half a block up from the Old Courthouse. The sale was approved and notarized the following June. Completed in 1833, the Church itself was built with separate front entrances for men and women. Stylistically, it was a blend of Federal and Greek revival detailing.
The church apparently never had a vibrant membership and the Presbyterians assembled for worship in their Jefferson Street sanctuary until shortly after the turn of the 20th Century. In 1908, the building was transferred (again for $1) to the Boone Library Association. The library was located in the building for several decades, but by 1944, the Burlington Volunteer Fire Department had taken over the building. In order to accommodate their trucks, the front wall of the church was opened up and two garage bays created. The Fire Department kept the building until 1966 and sometime afterwards it became an auto repair business. It was Sam’s Garage when Boone County acquired the property in 2001.
The Burlington Presbyterian Church is a contributing resource in the Burlington National Register Historic District, which was created in 1979 and revised in 2004. The county’s property maintenance department rehabilitated the structure in 2001 before moving in. The delicate Federal style fanlight over the remaining front door was carefully recreated, although the wide garage bay entrance was retained. The Burlington Presbyterian Church is one of several historic buildings now owned and occupied by government entities in Burlington.