First Christian Church on North 10th Street holds a strong history in its structure, which has endured several changes over time. The church was organized in 1832 after members of Bear Creek Christian Church, which was three miles north of Columbia, came to establish First Christian. The church was built on a lot on the west side of Seventh Street and faced the Courthouse in 1838. The lot was purchased on Aug. 17, 1836, and during construction, church services were held at different locations, including the Courthouse.
The initial structure was a one-story brick building on a foundation of 40 by 60 feet. The church had a potbelly stove and wooden benches with backs that supported members as they attended two-hour services. A new church, which cost about $12,000, was built at the corner of 10th and Walnut streets, which is where the church is today. Some bricks from the original building were used for the marker in the current building. This building was dedicated on Jan. 31, 1861. It was considered one of the largest churches in mid-Missouri, with seating for 500.
Chicago architect T.A. Bell designed the current sanctuary. The $30,000 project included the chancel in the northwest corner and the pews arranged in a fan shape. This seating was adjusted in 1929 when the education building was constructed based on a design from Eugene Groves, a Denver architect. Prior to 1990, a passageway with double doors to the west end of the building was between the education building and the sanctuary. A local architect, Pon Chinn, designed the enclosure to the passageway.
The church also preserves history in its structure from its own members. Minister-Emeritus Sam Langley gave the cross on the steeple to the church in honor of his wife, Ima Lou. The plaque inside the bell tower was given by Mary Omer and depicts the certification and registry of the sanctuary by the Department of the Interior as a National Historic Place.
The church celebrated its sesquicentennial in the spring of 1982 and continues to serve the community.