Here’s a look back at the history of five of Twin Falls’ historic downtown churches, many of which have legacies spanning more than a century:
St. Edward’s Catholic Church
November 1904: Twin Falls Catholics meet for their first mass. Informal gatherings were also held in Rock Creek Canyon.
September 1905: Twin Falls Canal Company donates land for a church.
August 1905: A small wooden church building is completed.
December 1906: Joseph Beusmans becomes the church’s first resident priest.
1907: First marriage and baptisms recorded.
1920: Groundbreaking happens for a new church building, since the congregation had outgrown its existing space.
August 1920: The cornerstone is blessed for the new church.
June 1921: Construction is completed on the new church — the sanctuary that’s still used today. One record shows the cost was $93,106, but there’s conflicting information in the church’s historical records.
September 1921: The old church building is converted into a three-room school.
December 1947: The new St. Edward’s Catholic School building, which is still used today, opens.
1960s: The church’s interior is remodeled.
1964: A parish hall is built on Seventh Avenue and the project costs $162,000.
1971: St. Edward’s Catholic School closes its doors, with about 310 students up through eighth-graders affected.
1976: The church is included in the Twin Falls City Park Historic District, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
June 1980: A Latino ministry begins.
1985: After extensive renovations, the school reopens with 73 students in three grade levels.
December 2001: Sunday masses are moved out of the sanctuary due to concerns with the building’s structural integrity. Masses return to the building the following year and renovations began.
Source: “On Holy Ground: The History, Art and Faith of St. Edward the Confessor Roman Catholic Church,” by Patricia Santos Marcantonio.
A revised edition of the book — with color photos and updated information about the church — is now available on Amazon.com and Barnesandnoble.com. Half of the profits from the book sale go to the church.
Twin Falls First United Methodist Church
October 1904: Pastor Henry W. Parker preaches his first sermon in Twin Falls at the Hazen Boarding House.
March 1908: Land is purchased for $2,400 on Shoshone Street near Twin Falls City Park to build a church.
June 1908: Groundbreaking takes place.
January 1909: Church members move into a partially-completed church for their first Sunday service.
1916: The cornerstone is set for an addition to the building, including the existing sanctuary.
1917: Dedication ceremony held.
1921: Church is remodeled for the installation of a new pipe organ.
May 21, 1921: Sunday church attendance was 3,500 people among three services when the sanctuary was reopened after a remodel.
Dec. 27, 1942: A “mortgage burning ceremony” is held to mark the end of 30 years of making payments on the church building. At this point, the church had 856 members.
July 1952: Margaret Calvert is named the church’s first full-time secretary. Before that, she was working part time.
1956: An educational wing opens after the church raises more than $140,000.
1968: The United Methodist Church is created after a merger of the Methodist and Evangelical United Brethren churches.
1986: A retreat center is created beneath the sanctuary.
1995: Church celebrates its 90th anniversary.
2001: Smoke detectors and fire alarms are installed in the church.
2004: About 220 people attend a centennial church service, potluck dinner and skit.
Source: “Following the Flight of the Faith: A Centennial History of the First United Methodist Church of Twin Falls, Idaho, 1905-2005”
First Presbyterian Church of Twin Falls
1904: The first community Sunday school, called the Little Union Sunday School, is organized in Rock Creek Canyon.
1905: The Twin Falls church is formally organized and requests affiliation with the national Presbyterian Church. It meets in the original Twin Falls schoolhouse.
1905: First organ purchased using donated money.
1909: Church built and opens on Fourth Avenue North.
1918: A new sanctuary, the one still used today, opens at Fifth Avenue North and Gooding Street.
1918: New pipe organ and stained glass dome are donated.
1929: Sunday school enrollment drops significantly due to the stock market crash and medical quarantines in Twin Falls.
1930: Church mortgage paid off and burned.
1945: Church services moved to Twin Falls High School while sanctuary roof undergoes major reconstruction.
1946: Dedication of remodeled sanctuary.
Dec. 29, 1946: A fire on a Sunday morning damages the choir loft and area near the pulpit.
1950: Groundbreaking for the second phase of the Christian education wing.
1950: A church thrift store, The Scotch Shop, opens.
1955: 25 hand bells are ordered and the first hand bell choir, made up of high school students, is formed.
1955: Church celebrates 50th anniversary.
1960: Dedication for the third and last construction phase, which includes a gymnasium, church offices and additional rooms.
1967-71: Head Start classes meet in the church building.
March 1978: Church building placed on National Register of Historic Places.
1989: Magic Valley High School, an alternative school with 63 students, is established and classes are held at the church through 1996.
1997: After congregation votes to stay in its current building, a remodel begins and is completed.
2005: Church celebrates its 100th birthday.
Source: “By Water and the Word: A Centennial History, 1905-2005”
First Christian Church
Nov. 26, 1905: The church organizes a congregation with 48 charter members.
May 1, 1908: Ray M. Beauchamp begins as temporary pastor and continues in that role for a year. The church added 134 people — 39 by baptism — that year.
June 12, 1910: A church building is dedicated.
1916: A fund is started to construct a new church. It would take 13 years before the building is completed.
1918: The church has about 600 members.
May 1918: W.A. Moore begins a three-year ministry knows as “Ministry of Heart-Power,” one of the most prosperous periods for the church. In total, there were $7,214 in offerings that year and the pastor’s salary was $1,900.
1923: The church feels the effects of the Great Depression, and pledges are only $2,200 and $560 for missions.
1927: Land is purchased at the corner of Sixth Avenue and Shoshone Street North. A home on the lot is moved to Seventh Avenue East to use as a church parsonage. A women’s council is organized around that time.
October 1929: Dedication is held for the new church building. The entire project cost was $83,266. Enough money was raised by the dedication to pay for all but $25,000.
May 1930: Glen W. Hutton begins a three-year ministry. Sunday School attendance averaged 651 and Easter attendance was 1,274. Money was tight during the depression and due to local bank failures, the church lost $900 raised to pay on its interest and debt.
April 4, 1934: A church sponsors Boy Scout Troop No. 9, with C.E. Allen as scoutmaster.
Jan. 1, 1939: Mark C. Cronenberger begins a long-term ministry.
1942-43: 65 young people from the congregation go into the U.S. armed services.
Jan. 2, 1944: “Victory Sunday” offerings are enough to retire the church’s debt with interest.
March 5, 1944: A mortgage burning ceremony is held.
1956-1992: The church has a Sunday church service at the Motor-Vu drive-in theater.
1958: Donald Hoffman begins one of the longest ministries at the church. He has a slogan for each year, including “Make Christ’s Church Alive in ‘65” and “Everyone Clicks in ’66.”
1975: A total of 73 members leave to form their own church, Community Christian Church.
Sept. 26, 1976: Congregation votes to pursue fundraising to build a church education wing. The building’s estimated cost was about $300,000.
Oct. 1, 1978: A dedication ceremony is held for the education wing.
1981: Parsonage is sold.
1984: John Parish Jr. becomes senior pastor, a position he holds for seven years.
April 10, 1988: A dinner of celebration is held and the last bond to pay for the church education wing is burned.
October 1991: Rick Bender begins his ministry.
Source: First Christian Church’s 90th anniversary publication, 1995
First Baptist Church
1908: The church’s first building is constructed. It’s now being used by Rock Creek Community Church.
1916: First Baptist purchases a church building from First Presbyterian Church of Twin Falls.
Many downtown Twin Falls churches were built around the World War I era. The war started in 1914, but the United States didn’t enter the war until a few years later.
The U.S. benefited from the economic stimulation of war in those early years as Europeans bought U.S. goods.
It meant a time of prosperity for some local residents and many residential homes were built in Twin Falls. As members of church congregations were making more money, contributions to churches increased.
1920s and 30s: There was a lot of turnover among the church’s pastors and a few died while serving. Starting around 1935, there was more stability in the church’s leadership.
December 1950: The first church service is held in First Baptist’s new building — the same one used today.
1967: A Christian education extension building is completed.
Source: Longtime church member Jim Gentry