First Baptist Church
586 Richmond Street
The earliest Baptist congregations in Upper Canada date from the early 1800s and developed through connections to congregations in the United States, particularly in New York State.
The first concerted effort to establish a Baptist congregation in London was at a meeting led by the American Reverend Eleazar Savage and William Wilkinson of St. Thomas in 1845 at the house of Duncan Bell of London.
In its early years the new congregation held its services in the school room of the Mechanics’ Institute building on Court House Square. The congregation first partook of the Lord’s Supper in December 1845. There was some controversy as to whether the presiding minister was an adherent of the same doctrine as the members of the new church.
Two years after its establishment the congregation appointed its first pastor, Reverend James Inglis of Detroit. He moved the congregation to a former Methodist chapel on the corner of King and Talbot Streets, which rented for 30£ a year. Rev. Inglis is also credited with publishing the first Baptist newspaper in Canada West, The Evangelical Pioneer.
In 1850, the congregation erected its own church on the corner of York and Talbot streets. For several years church expenses posed a major problem. Several measures were used to address this dilemma, including pew rentals.
In 1881, a larger church designed by London architect George F. Durand was built at 507 Talbot Street, at a cost of roughly $17,500. Its design was consistent with period evangelical churches in the width of the nave, which allowed a good view of the preacher.
By the 1950s, the congregation had again outgrown its quarters. The present First Baptist Church was built in 1953 at the gore formed by Richmond, Clarence, and Kent streets.
507 Talbot Street is now occupied by the First Christian Reformed Church.