Church History

Humble beginnings. And in case you’re wondering… yes, a connection to Harriet Beecher Stowe.

Beecher Presbyterian Church is located in the heart of downtown Lawrenceburg, IN. We are a congregation proud of our rich and diverse history for the past 191 years! We are called to proclaim and live out the Good News of the Gospel. We live out our mission by welcoming diversity, forming partnerships, building unity, and connecting with our community.

     The Beecher PC was started in 1803 by Samuel Bainbridge, but was not actually organized until September 28, 1829. Then known as First Presbyterian Church, the building that once occupied this site was probably built in 1831. Upon completion, the basement under it was used as a schoolroom and later converted into the “Lawrenceburgh High School” in 1833 by Z. Casterline.

     There were three pastors before the renowned Henry Ward Beecher came in 1837. Twenty-three-year-old Henry Ward Beecher, one of America’s most celebrated clergymen of the nineteenth century, came here fresh out of Lane Theological Seminary in Cincinnati, OH and accepted the position from a then eight-year-old First Presbyterian Church for a $500 annual salary. It is said his congregation first numbered 19 women and 1 man which some say was one man too many. For a little over two years Beecher preached and acted as sexton, taking care of church offices, sweeping floors, and oil lamps. It was here that Beecher first spoke on the slavery question.

     It is believed that Lawrenceburg provided the inspiration for Harriet Beecher Stowe’s, Henry’s sister, famous book Uncle Tom’s Cabin. The Rev. John H. Thomas, a former pastor of First Presbyterian, once wrote in a local paper: “It is the belief of some old people here that Mrs. Stowe found the origin of Uncle Tom in an old colored man known by that name living here. Says an old lady “Uncle Tom used to tell long and interesting stories about the Revolution and Mrs. Stowe used to often go to his cabin and talk with him. And I’ve heard him talk and pray a hundred times just like he talks in and prays in Mrs. Stowe’s books. He was the best Christian in town.’”

The 1937 Flood and the Floating Bible

Beecher has weathered the many Lawrenceburg floods over the years.

When the “big one” hit in 1937, the water filled the sanctuary up to the bottom tips of the stained glass windows seen on the back wall in this picture. Amazing! What’s even more amazing is the Bible, also pictured here. It is said that this old Bible was found in the sanctuary during that flood. And just like the Word lifts us up today, the Good Book was lifted up along with the floodwaters, floating on the very top! When the waters receded, the Bible was able to be preserved, as it hadn’t been completely soaked. It holds a prominent place in Beecher’s beautiful sanctuary to this day. Come and see. And hear!