The First Presbyterian Church of Cadillac is the oldest church building in Cadillac still in use as a church. The Presbyterian Church in Cadillac has its roots in the early lumbering days of Clam Lake (present Cadillac). John Redpath was a Presbyterian evangelist, who preached his first sermon from a pine stump in front of the Mason House on lake Street in September of 1872. In November 1872, the First Presbyterian Society of Clam Lake was organized. The records of the church show the following persons were the first members of this congregation:
Mrs. Francis Bennet, Mrs. Caroline Cavanaugh, James Dancer, Jane Ferguson, Mrs. Fanny May, Donald McBain, Margaret McBain, Charles Potts,Mrs. Ira VanMeter, Ira VanMeter, Anna VanMeter, Thomas Whaley, Jane Whaley.
In the winter of 1874, a frame church building was completed on the present church site. The land had been set aside by George Mitchell, the founder of Cadillac, for this purpose. (He gave land for several church sites, as well as the school.) That church burned in 1903. The church that now stands at the corner of Harris and Simon Streets was built during the period 1904-1906. The cost was approximately $20,000. The original first floor ended at the north sanctuary wall. In the 1950’s the education annex was built.
The pews are the original pews, and have been refinished a couple of times in the past 93 years. The sanctuary was remodeled in 1965, when the present pipe organ was installed. The organ was purchased from the Moller Organ Company in Baltimore, MD. The seats in the alcoves and balcony were purchased in 1905 from the Congregational Church for 75 cents apiece. The bell, which is rung every Sunday to call people to church, was purchased in 1877, and hung in the frame building which preceded the present structure. That building burned in 1903. The bell was salvaged from the ruins and hung in the current tower.
The beautiful stained glass windows were purchased from Schuler and Mueller in Chicago for $660.64, including installation. They were installed in 1905. (The windows were removed, cleaned, and repaired in the 1980’s at a cost of $47,000. The present replacement cost would be somewhere around $2,000,000.) The original contract specified “the glass in the above windows to be opalescent, the lead best-quality, and the workmanship first class. The entire work being guaranteed wind-and-waterproof.” Betty Best, in her book on the history of the church “First Presbyterian Church, The First Century,” says, “The subject matter of the windows gives evidence of thoughtful consideration in design. The message of the gospel is presented in both scene and symbol with a total emphasis upon the New Testament. There is, in fact, a noticeable absence of references to the patriarchs of the Old Testament common to many church windows; instead Jesus is the focal subject in every window.