Our congregation, which was the first presbyterian one in Florida, was organized in June of 1824 during the Territorial Period in the state’s history. Through the efforts of Reverend Dr. William McWhir, a minister in the Presbytery of Georgia, fourteen original members formed this congregation. Once it began operating on its own, Dr. McWhir returned to his ministry in Georgia.
The congregation immediately began making plans to construct a house of worship and did so in January of 1825. Construction began on a sanctuary and continued for five years. The cost of the building totaled $5,000 as well as an additional $500 for the property on South St. George Street (located across from the current Cathedral Parish School gymnasium). By 1830, the building was finished and the congregation continued to grow in its membership.
Over the years, the church building served many needs within the community. During the Civil War, the Union army used the building for military purposes and services were not held there during that time. At the end of the war, the church resumed weekly services in its place of worship.
In 1866, the church purchased an existing home at the corner of Hypolita and St. George Streets to serve as the home of the minister and his family. The location of the home placed the minister in a prominent location in the old city, reflecting the minister’s place in St. Augustine society. The Manse (the residence of the Presbyterian minister) hosted a number of important visitors to the city.
The present sanctuary was given to the church by Henry Morrison Flagler as a memorial to his daughter and was dedicated in 1890. Flagler’s daughter, Jenny Louise Benedict, died due to complications from childbirth. Mr. Flagler and his first wife, Mary, are entombed in the Flagler family mausoleum, which is located in the church, along with daughter Jenny Louise and granddaughter, Marjorie.