Plaques and Bells
Small Bell (fourth floor)
The Ann Arbor Presbyterian Society built its first church building in 1828, two years after the congregation was organized. Somehow or other, lost in history, the church acquired a bell which hung in an oak tree near the church. Later the bell was hung at the courthouse, a school house, a boys' camp, and eventually was rediscovered at Eastern Michigan University where it had been painted green. The bell was recovered, restored and returned to the church, and was rung once more on July 4th, 1976, honoring the USA's Bicentennial and again on January 21, 1981 to celebrate the announcement of the release of American hostages in Iran. It now resides on the fourth floor.
Michigan Antislavery Society Plaque (on stairway between 3rd and 4th floors)
The plaque recognizes that the first organized opposition to slavery in Michigan was begun at First Presbyterian. Many of the 254 persons signing a call for organizing an antislavery society were members of First Pres. At that time the building was located at the corner of Huron Avenue and Division Street, where the Ann Arbor News building is today. There is a similar plaque displayed outside the present News building. The plaque in the church reads:
Michigan Antislavery Society
The founding meeting of the Michigan Antislavery Society convened November 10, 1836 in the Presbyterian Church of Ann Arbor. The delegates elected officers and elected fourteen resolutions denouncing slavery and the slave trade. Selection of the Presbyterian Church reflected the prominent roles in the antislavery movement played by Presbyterians, including the Rev. John P. Cleaveland, later interim pastor of the first Presbyterian Church of Ann Arbor.
Dedicated November 1976
World War II Plaque (third floor foyer)
The bronze plaque lists the names of 191 "Members of this congregation on active duty in the uniformed forces of the United States 1941-1947." Tragically, seven never returned.
Sackett Memorial Plaque (on stairway between 2nd and 3rd floors)
Mrs. Harriett Louisa Sackett was an extremely generous contributor to Tappan Hall Presbyterian Association (the predecessor to the University of Michigan Presbyterian Corporation) and to the church. She gave the Tappan Association her brick house and property on Huron Avenue (between the Methodist and Baptist churches of today), money to buy a manse, and the organ for the brick church on Huron, as well as many lesser contributions. This plaque tells some of the history of Mrs. Sackett and the Tappan Association.
Scout of the Year Award (2nd floor)
First Presbyterian has sponsored Boy Scout Troop 7 since 1920, two years after the troop was organized. The Samuel Pasco Scout of the Year Award was named to honor Troop 7's first scoutmaster. The current charter for the Troop is hung in the main office.
Short lectern (in Monteith)
by Carl Binder
While the Rev. Anna Marie Austin was the Director of Christian Education, she realized that all the lecterns around the church were too high for the children in Sunday School. She measured the heights of the Sunday School children, found the average, and asked Carl Binder to make the lectern the correct size for that height. The trefoil on the pedestal, composed of a single line with no beginning or end, symbolizes the Trinity.
In the office there is a handsome wood Presbyterian cross whose history I have not been able to discover. There is also a silver plate embossed with Michelangelo's Pieta, which was a gift from Lucille McGrath. The frame was constructed by Carl Binder. A memento of a former church building is a pew deed for Pew 10, which cost $95 when it was issued on December 29, 1843. A notice of a choir concert to be held on March 4, 1845 is on the opposite wall. Admission to the concert was 12 ½ cents.
In Remembrance: Memorial Garden List of Names (entrance to Monteith)
Four boards contain plaques bearing the names of those buried in the First Presbyterian Church Memorial Garden, located under the large oak tree by the door on the south side of the office building.
180th Anniversary Plaque
In August 2006 a bronze tablet was installed beside the main front doors of the church, from Washtenaw into the narthex, in honor of the 180th anniversary of the establishment of First Pres. The tablet shows a picture of the previous church. At the same time the 1860 cornerstone of that church was embedded in the wall below the plaque. The 1937 cornerstone for the present church is on the opposite side of the front doors and contains a time capsule with mementos of that year in it.
Large Bell (outside)
The large bell was purchased in 1872 and hung in the tall bell tower of the red brick church (at the corner of Huron and Division). The inscription on the rim reads, "Ring out the darkness of the land, Ring in the Christ that is to be." When the old church was torn down the bell was moved to this property and became something of a problem. Midnight revelers from nearby fraternities learned that stones accurately thrown would produce resounding bongs. Later, tipped on its side, it sat ignominiously in the median of the parking lot on the north side of the church. During the Forward in Faith campaign in the 1990s it was moved to its present location, where it is handsome, but, alas, will ring no more.