The First Presbyterian Church of Carlisle ranks with Silver Spring (Mechanicsburg), Big Spring (Newville), and Middle Spring (Shippensburg) Presbyterian Churches as Cumberland County’s oldest churches. All four date from around 1734, when Scots-Irish colonists began settling the Cumberland Valley.
The future Carlisle congregation originally worshiped at what is now Meeting House Springs on the Conodoguinet Creek, hence the name. The original building was most likely constructed of logs, although no record exists of its design or exact location. The accompanying cemetery, still in church hands, contains Cumberland County’s oldest marked grave: Janet Thompson, deceased September 29, 1744.
In the 1750s, the congregation moved two miles southeastward into the new county seat, Carlisle. The church’s limestone building, on the town square’s northwestern corner, was projected in 1757 and was completed between 1769 and 1772. Subsequent additions include a chapel (1827), a new chapel and bell tower (1873), the south wing (1952), and the south wing’s second floor (1986). This historic structure remains Carlisle’s oldest public building.
The First Presbyterian Church collection contains the records and related ephemera of the First Presbyterian Church in Carlisle, Pennsylvania that date from 1734 to 1983. The collection consists of 21 Document Boxes, 2 Oversized Boxes, and 4 Oversized Folders, and is arranged into eleven record groups: Board of Trustees, Board of Deacons, Board of Session, Financial Records, Membership, Personnel, Physical Plant, Organizations, Printed Materials, Miscellaneous, and Photographs. More complete descriptions of each Record Group accompany the Collection Inventory of each. Several documents have been transcribed; these transcriptions are filed by page number following the original document.