St. Peter's Church History

History of St. Peter’s Church

St. Peter’s was formally organized June 16, 1828, and held worship services in the Columbia Masonic Lodge until beginning construction on its own building in 1831. The first rector, Rev. Daniel Stephens, left St. Peter’s to become a missionary in West Tennessee before the church was completed. Leonidas Polk became the second rector as the building was completed and consecrated on April 17, 1835, as the second church of the Diocese of Tennessee.
James Hervey Otey, elected first Bishop of Tennessee in 1833, played a considerable role in the history of St. Peter’s and Maury County. He moved to Columbia in 1835 and was cofounder of Columbia Female Institute, Ravenscroft Seminary, and Mercer Hall. He later served as rector for St. Peter’s from March 18, 1839, until January 1, 1842, and again from June 3, 1844, until January 1, 1848. 
James Knox Polk, the eleventh president of the United States, was known to have attended services in the original church (The Rev. Leonidas Polk was a cousin).

By 1860 members decided a new church was needed, and on September 5, 1860 the cornerstone for the present church was laid. The first worship service was held in June 1861.
A year later the church was used by the Federal Army as the Provost Marshal’s office. The Civil War had reached Maury County. Church continued to be held until December 1863 when the church was closed by military order. It would not reopen for 18 months. Funeral services for four Confederate generals who were killed in the Battle of Franklin were held at St. Peter’s in 1864.
After the war, the church was restored and completed. On June 4, 1871 the present church was finally consecrated. There have been many additions to St. Peter’s since the turn of the century, including the Parish house in 1924 and two-story Sunday School and office addition completed in 1964.
St. Peter’s was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979, a fitting action for our beautiful church.

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