First Independent Baptist Church
Historical Designation
Corsicana, Navarro County, Texas


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2/20/2005 Deserving Mark: First Independent nabs local historical designation




Members of First Independent Baptist Church display the historical marker assigned to their landmark facility. Pictured are, first row, left to right, Everitt Liggins (trustee), Pastor Donald Lacey, Warner Redus (events coordinator) and Gwen Woods (youth director); second row, from left, Cleo Lee (trustee and public relations), Mary Whitfield (musician), Rev. Moses Miller (assistant) and Cathenya Watson (youth director). Daily Sun photo/RAYMOND LINEX II

 



By RAYMOND LINEX II/Daily Sun Staff

As First Independent Baptist Church approaches its 138th anniversary, it does so with state notoriety. The marker out front since 1980 backs it up.

Local significance means a lot too, so gaining recognition from the city's Historical Commission was important to its members. Earlier this month, the Commission voted to designate the current location on East Fifth Avenue as its first church and African-American building recognized.

It has stood since 1918, undergoing a variety of changes, but maintaining one cause: To provide a place to worship the Lord.



"We realized we didn't have a marker on the city level," said Rev. Donald Lacey, who celebrates his 51st birthday today.

Lacey, the 24th pastor to lead First Independent and in his fifth year, said senior believers wanted to see their church honored. They first contacted the state Historical Society, which told them they must deal with the city, first.

The church's timing made the Historical Commission honor a smooth one, Lacey said.
"It only took 24 hours, as far as getting in contact with (Commission member) Malinda Sharpley and getting the application filled out and back in," he said.

At the Commission's meeting earlier this month, First Independent was approved, a presentation made and plans set to place the marker on the front of building over the steps that lead into the sanctuary.

The marker was set Feb. 9, with several of the church members on hand.

"We're proud of it," Everett Liggins said.

"They deserve it," Lacey said.

Construction on the current location began June 19, 1917 according to church historians. It was completed in September of 1918 at a cost of about $25,000. The building has been renovated often.

The dome ceiling made up of stained glass now gives way to a lowered, more modern ceiling as a result of the church receiving air conditioning and heating in 1968, member Warner Redus said. In the early '70s, the pews were upgraded, she said. The parsonage was also remodeled during that time.

The two-story structure still holds onto its early looks today in many ways, and members finally have something on the local level to represent that.

"We're just excited about the whole thing," Lacey said. "It's a big part of community, not just on the historical level, but in being able to contribute to the community."

 

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