The history of First Presbyterian Church of Kalamazoo began with settlers who came from New England, New York, Virginia and Ohio to Kalamazoo County and formed Congregational and Presbyterian Churches. Because of the 1801 Plan of Union between these two churches, "Wherever it seemed unwise to support separate churches in a new settlement, the members of these faiths might unite in forming one church."
In June of 1835, the earliest Presbyterian church society was informally organized and in February of 1836 it formally incorporated as the First Presbyterian Society of Bronson (the original name of the city of Kalamazoo). The first house of worship, a white frame structure on the south side of South Street between Burdick and Rose, was personally owned by the trustees and was dedicated the same year.
In January of 1842, the First Presbyterian Society of Kalamazoo changed its form of government from Presbyterian to Congregational and changed its name to the First Congregational Church of Kalamazoo but remained a part of the Kalamazoo Presbytery until 1849.
In 1848, the Presbyterian members of the church drew up Articles of Incorporation of the Presbyterian Society for the Purpose of Erecting a House of God. On February 6, 1849, the Presbyterian minister gave six months' notice of his intention to leave the pastorate of the First Congregational Church of Kalamazoo and moderated a meeting of 51 persons who asked to be organized as First Presbyterian Society of Kalamazoo. On March 19, 1849, the members formally adopted its Articles of Incorporation. From that day to this, the life of the First Presbyterian Church has been uninterrupted.
A white, wood-framed church whose lines reflected the New England heritage was built by the Presbyterians on the corner of South and Rose where the first service was held on March 4, 1849. As the congregation grew, the building was enlarged by the addition of two wings and a gallery. On December 5, 1883, the church building was destroyed by fire. The newspaper reported the next day, "No other temple, however grand it may be, could be to [the Congregation] what this has been."
The trustees chose to rent the Academy (on South Rose at the Foot of Academy Street) and rooms over a downtown store for social meetings. At the first worship service, Rev. Hunting encouraged the worshippers by saying, "Let us not look back or down, but upward and onward… I propose to take heart of hope and be of good cheer, for so only can we accomplish anything."
The spirit of the pastor was reflected in the society when on July 1, 1885, the Brick Church (located at Rose and South Street) was dedicated. The congregation worshipped in this fine old building until it became inadequate. A site on South Street was purchased and plans prepared for a new church and church house. It was planned to build the church house first to relieve badly crowded Sunday School and dining facilities. The brick sanctuary building could serve until a new one was ready to replace it. The cornerstone of the church house was laid on October 18, 1925.
Plans to continue worshipping in the brick church were suddenly changed on July 6, 1926, when a fire completely destroyed the building leaving only a brick shell. Designs for a Gothic style church building were developed and accepted. Until the new building was ready, the congregation worshipped in the auditorium of Central High School.
The church house was dedicated on October 10, 1926. Meanwhile, the congregation watched the sanctuary take shape. On Palm Sunday, April 13, 1930, the congregation worshipped in the Gothic Church for the first time. The church house was remodeled and the chapel erected for dedication in 1967. The sanctuary building and its beautiful windows were completely refurbished in 1997.