Our Story

HOW IT ALL STARTED...

The establishment of a Dutch colony on Black Lake, now Holland, was a notable event in the history of Michigan. Dr. Albertus Van Raalte and his small band of followers settled in Holland in 1847, and that same year many of the first Dutch settlers migrated to Grand Haven. With the assistance of Dr. Van Raalte, this church was established as the Dutch Reformed Church at Grand Haven, meeting in homes. In 1848 they held religious meetings in and old schoolhouse on Second Street, and also in the new schoolhouse on First Street. First Reformed Church was organized in 1850 by the Rev. Klass Van der Schuur.

first church

1851 - 1853

The first church building, the "Slab Church" was built of waste lumber that floated down the Grand River from the Ferry Mill in 1851. It was one story, 12 feet wide, and 24 feet long, built on the ground. This church building was located on an empty lot between Fulton and Elliot Streets on north Third Street. 30 people attended the church.

SECOND CHURCH

1853 - 1870

Rix Robinson, wealthy fur trader, sold a large piece of land on the corner of Washington and Third Streets to the church in 1853 for $275. He later donated $200 to the church. A frame church building was built on the plot, 28 feet wide by 50 feet long. This building was sold and moved to another location in 1870.

THIRD CHURCH

1870 - 1889

The third church building was a stately Frame building of Gothic style, built at a cost of $14,000. Its roof and steeple were adorned with many spires and was referred to as the "church of many towers". It was 60 feet wide, 100 feet long, and 76 feet high. It had three basements consisting of a lecture room, a heating plant, and a Christian Endeavor Room. This church building was destroyed by the big Grand Haven fire of 1889.

FOURTH CHURCH

1890 - 1907

Left with a $1,700 debt from the previous church building, the membership forged forward. A similar structure was built on the same foundation at the cost of $12,224, and a parsonage was built next door for $3,200. This fourth church building was 60 feet wide and 100 feet long with two entrances on the southwest corner. A large lecture room and a gallery occupied the front of the building on the Washington Street side and the pulpit was in the extreme north end. A portable heater placed in the back of the organ to dry it out caused a fire that destroyed this church building in 1907.

FIFTH CHURCH

1908 - 1913

The fifth church building was again built on the same foundation and looked almost identical to the previous structure. Minor changes were made to make the building more substantial and fireproof. The basement was finished with Sunday school classes and a room for social events. The town clock and bell that were in the previous church were replaced by the city. For a third time the church building burned down in 1913, caused by a switchboard behind the Moller pipe organ.

SIXTH CHURCH

Dedicated in 1914

The new edifice was erected on the old foundation and dedicated in 1914 at a cost of $26,000. This sixth church building was built in the Dayton plan of architecture with the pulpit on the east side and arcing pews. The interior, with brown and gilt treatment of the huge beams in the ceiling were a work of art. In 1940 an addition was added with a new boiler room, kitchen, classrooms, and a choir room that later was converted into offices, a library, and a parlor. A new 3-level educational wing was added in 1960, and in 1989 a multipurpose room and office area were added on the north side.

BE A PART OF OUR STORY...

First Reformed Church has been a warm and welcoming church home for hundreds and hundreds of families throughout the years, and a faithful witness to Jesus Christ. Located in the middle of downtown Grand Haven, FRC remains an integral part of the community to this day as it continues to be a home for:

  • worship and prayer
  • raising children in faith
  • learning and applying the Bible
  • sharing the Gospel story of Jesus Christ
  • caring for each other as a family of faith
  • meeting local and global needs

We are a close church family, but not a closed one. We would love for you to join us and become part of the ongoing story of FRC.

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