TImelines!: Two denominations and the University of California | TheUnion.com
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TImelines!: Two denominations and the University of California

MY, WHAT AN UNUSUAL headline! We hasten to explain: but first, to identify the August 19, photograph of Nevada City’s First Baptist Church on Main Street at the NE corner of Church street.

The structure was originally a Congregational Church whose cornerstone was laid on July 4, 1856, and occupied in January, 1857. It served its congregation until it was gutted by the Great Fire of November, 1863, the worst in Nevada City’s history. A new church was erected under the direction of the Rev. H.H. Cummings at a reported cost of $5,000 and dedicated the following April.

The congregation dwindled and by 1914, the building stood vacant. During the ensuing years, it has served as a Christian Science meeting place, briefly as a mortuary and for many years it was divided into apartments. Then in 1954, it was sold to the Baptist congregation for a reported $12,600 and restoration began.



Earthquake retrofitting was required and it wasn’t until October 1958, that church services were again held in the former Congregational Church by the Community Baptist congregation which name was used until 1967. With a few modifications it remains today as the First Baptist Church of Nevada City.

And now to explain the academic portion of the headline. An event of monumental importance to California’s system of higher education occurred in Nevada City in 1853, when the Rev. Henry Durant arrived. On May 9, of that year, a meeting was called between the representatives of the Presbytery of San Francisco and the California Congregational Association to discuss and inaugurate plans for an institution of higher learning.




As a result of this meeting, the Contra Costa Academy was established in Oakland in that same year and it became the College of California with Durant as its head. That institution transferred its buildings and lands to the state which gave impetus to the creation of the University of California at Berkeley and the same Rev. Henry Durant became the university’s first president.

AND NOW that portion of TIMELINES! for which you all (well, most all of) you have been anxiously waiting; the EARLY RISERS listing, but first a bit of last week’s unfinished business.

Due to certain undefined anomalies attributed to the United States Postal Service’s service, a correct entry from Doc Dachtler was delivery deprived and arrived too late to be included; sorry, Doc.

Here’s one for the books. Last week NIEL LOCKE and JOHN PARENT bemoaned the fact that their Union newspaper carrier lived out of Early Riser range hence allowing them no chance to claim a share of that coveted title – wrong!

This week their answer was first correct and congratulations to our new first-time Early Riser awardees.

Maybe a big “thank you” is in order for your paper person.

While Niel and John were first in correct, Complete Riser Jean Rowe Keeny was in with a first complete answer telling us that the Baptist Church first housed the Congregationalists and adds, “in 1946, my husband’s … best friend … lived (with his wife) in an apartment up-stairs … for about 3 years.”

Then, along came and not in order: Jim and Debbie Luckinbill, Dennis Babson, Brad Patterson is a communicant and gave this bit of information, “The steeple is (now) gone we have a fund growing slowly to replace it;” Margaret Forbes, Melanie Wellner, Brenda Apple, Ken and Dolly Jaynes, Toni Laub, admits she is in too late to qualify for Early Riser, but loves, “(the) beautiful postcard…of the petite Gothic/Greek Revival church;” Jim Dierberger, Marguerite and David Baxley, Troy Ellen, Ed Hayden, Kenneth Holbrook, Mario Valceschini and Margaret Burlew.

READERS WISHING TO submit answers to today’s quizzical photo are encouraged to do so by e-mailing: bobwyckoff@sbcglobal.net or dropping a postal card (28¢) to PO Box 216, Nevada City CA 95959. Thank you.

BOB WYCKOFF is a retired Nevada County newspaper editor/publisher and author of local history. His most recent work is “The Way It Was-Looking Back At Nevada County,” published by and available at The Union newspaper office, 464 Sutton Way, Grass Valley CA 95945.


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