Location Information
(for the First Presbyterian Church)
Name:First Presbyterian Church
Address:609 Church Street
City/County:Port Gibson, Claiborne County
Architectural Information
Construction Date:1859-60
Architectural Styles(s):Romanesque
Registration Information
NR District Name:Market Street-Suburb St. Mary
NR Status:Contributing
Element No.:42
MPS:Historic Resources of Port Gibson
Local Designation Information
Local District Name:Port Gibson Historic District
click here for additional information on this district.
According to a document found in the cornerstone of the church during a 1959 renovation, James Jones was the "Builder and Architect" of the building. Victor McGee, a descendant and researcher of New Orleans architect Henry Howard, claims that the church is almost an exact duplicate of the Third Presbyterian Church in New Orleans, designed by Howard. It is known that Howard was working on several Mississippi River plantations in Louisiana in the 1850s and that he designed "Edgewood" in Natchez, but there is no documentary or other evidence to support the attribution of First Presbyterian in Port Gibson to Howard, especially given the strong evidence for James Jones. James Jones is listed in the 1860 Census as a carpenter -- it is possible that he was only the contractor, not the designer, of the church, or that he had worked on Third Presbyterian Church and had brought the plans with him to Port Gibson. In that same census, other artisans are apparently living with Jones, including two plasterers (father and son) from N.Y. and two brick masons (also father and son) from England.

This building is included in "Historic Churches of the South" (1952) (pp. 27-30), "Look to the Rock" (1961), "Shrines to Tomorrow" (1971), "Historic Architecture in Mississippi" (1973) (pp. 59-60), "Architecture in Claiborne County, Mississippi" (1974) (pp. 27-28), "The Majesty of the Mississippi Delta" (2002) (p. 13), "Historic Churches of Mississippi" (2007) (pp. 130-131), "Must See Mississippi" (2007) (pp. 123-126), and "Buildings of Mississippi" (2020 (p.62, ND73). [HABS: MS-23 (1936)]

The "Hand Pointing to Heaven" atop the steeple was documented by "Save Outdoor Sculpture!" in 1993 (filed as SOS-CLB-001).