Past Treasure of the Month – January 2020
In 1893, the American Christian Missionary Society sent Rev. J.W. Lowber to Galveston to establish Central Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). While there was already a small congregation on the island, members held services at private residences as the group lacked its own church building. Under Lowber’s direction, a brick church building was erected on the southwest corner of 20th Street and Avenue K in 1895.
Just five years later, the devastating hurricane of September 8, 1900 partially destroyed Central Christian Church. Congregants worked diligently to repair and re-open the church, and the structure was raised along with other buildings in the neighborhood during the early 1900s. In 1916, Central Christian relocated to a larger, two-story building at the corner of 22nd Street and Avenue I. However, noise from the streetcar line and interurban train disrupted church services and activities, and leaders at Central Christian again began looking for a property to better meet the needs of the congregation.
By 1922, enough money was raised to purchase the former residence of W.L. Moody, Sr. at 23rd Street and Avenue M. The property included a three-story colonial mansion and the surrounding fourteen lots. It was located in a quiet neighborhood outside of downtown and was close to the streetcar line.
A temporary church was built on the site while renovation plans for the 30-room mansion were made. These called for the removal of all walls on the first floor to accommodate a large, open sanctuary. The second and third floors were to be used for Sunday school classrooms and offices.
This vision was never realized, and within a few years the property was sold. Under the leadership of Rev. Garrett W. McQuiddy, land was purchased at Avenue O ½ and 28th street, and a new church was erected at that site in 1929. In 1969, a modern sanctuary and educational wing were added on an adjacent lot, and the 1929 church was later razed. The expansion allowed for additional educational, fellowship, and community facilities.
Central Christian Church continues to serve the Galveston community from the same site it has occupied for the past 90 years.