Five of Amarillo’s six historic churches are nestled in a small area just north of I-40, West of I-27 and Southwest of downtown. The sixth is located 10 blocks to the north.
First Baptist Church – founded 1889
Left to right, FBC sanctuary completed in 1929, education building completed in 1954 and the original church building used for worship from 1889 – 1904. This original building was quiet an achievement in 1889 considering the church was without pastor until 1891. In 1964, the congregation moved this building to their current location.
Polk Street United Methodist Church – founded 1889
Inspired by First United Methodist Church – Dallas, this Gothic style facility towers over the Tudor Style parsonage on the right of this photo. The sanctuary on the left and 4 story education building were completed in 1928.
First Presbyterian Church – founded 1890
Founded as Central Presbyterian Church, the stone structure is Gothic Revival style designed around an open courtyard. The steep pitched gable roofs are brought close to the ground to keep the massive structure in scale with the surrounding neighborhood.
Central Church of Christ – founded 1908
This 1930’s structure stands in contrast to its modern counterpart (turrets shown on the right), which was completed in the 1980’s. In 2009, the church completed a $3 million dollar renovation and constructed a youth center on its campus.
Mt. Zion Baptist Church – founded 1910
First Baptist Church Amarillo assisted with the site and structure of Mount Zion. One year after Amarillo was first settled in 1887, Jerry Calloway, recognized as Amarillo’s first black resident, moved to the Amarillo with a white family from Georgia, living as a domestic in the home of his employer. He helped start Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church, Amarillo’s first black church.
In 1998, Oprah Winfrey visited the church twice during her time in Amarillo while she was tending to her libel lawsuit trial which was held in town. The church sign reads:
“Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church is the friendly church on the corner where we enter to worship and depart to serve.”
St. Mary’s Catholic Cathedral – founded 1959
While not the first Catholic Cathedral in Amarillo, St. Mary’s is the seat of the Amarillo Diocese. St. Mary’s became a parish in 1959 and met in a chapel that was moved from Amarillo Air Base to property that also housed St. Mary’s School. A new sanctuary was dedicated in 1981 but was tragically destroyed by fire in 2007. The new building was dedicated in 2009. In 2011, the church was named by Pope Benedict XVI as the third cathedral for the Amarillo Diocese. Radius pews echo the shape of the near round sanctuary. Fourteen Stations of the Cross (similar to the Cross at Groom) encircle about 75% of the perimeter of the sanctuary. Two carved wooden angels plus windows and other articles from Sacred Heart Cathedral that closed in 1974 are currently in use at St. Mary’s Cathedral.
So there you have it – a short visit of Amarillo’s historic churches. Thanks for coming by – y’all come back now.