Our First 100 Years

In one of the first streetcar communities in Charlotte, NC, a group of 80 residents of the Elizabeth neighborhood petitioned the local Presbytery to organize a church in March, 1912. The church was named Knox Presbyterian Church, in honor of noted Scottish preacher and reformer John Knox.

The first regular service was held on May 19, 1912, in the auditorium of what was then Elizabeth College (now part of the old building at Presbyterian Hospital).

A lot was purchased for $3,000 at the corner of East Fifth Street and Park Drive, which remains the church’s home today. A small wood frame building was erected for temporary quarters. At the close of the first year, the Session reported to Presbytery a total membership of 130. Some of Charlotte’s best-known and most influential families were involved in the founding, development and growth of the church.

The church’s first permanent building was completed in September, 1914.

In March, 1922, Knox Presbyterian was granted a generous monetary gift by Mrs. Sallie Caldwell White in memory of her parents, David A. and Martha A. Caldwell. To comply with the terms of the gift, the name of the church was changed to Caldwell Memorial. The new edifice, which is the present sanctuary, was finished in December of that year. Membership at that time numbered 525.

Over the years, Caldwell Presbyterian has been instrumental in the founding of numerous churches throughout Charlotte, including Seigle Avenue, Eastminster, Sunset Hills. Commonwealth Avenue and SouthPark Presbyterian churches.

As Charlotte’s population flowed from the central part of the city to the suburbs in the middle of the 20th Century, center city churches watched their populations rise and fall with those migrations. Caldwell was one of those churches. By 2006 the historic church’s membership had dwindled to fewer than two dozen families. The Session voted to close the doors.

On the day the closing was announced during Sunday services, a visiting family began to spread the word about the welcome they experienced at Caldwell. Before long, attendance had doubled and the decision to close was reversed. In what has been called “The Miracle on Fifth Street,” Caldwell Presbyterian was reborn as a healthy and diverse missional church with a commitment to its urban neighborhood as the 21st Century unfolds.

In its Centennial year, Caldwell Presbyterian is now home to almost 250 members. Visit our Facebook page for up to date centennial celebration information.


God Invites. We Welcome. All.