Presbyterians have worshiped at the corner of Fifth and Church since 1814. In that year the First Presbyterian Church of Nashville built their first structure. After the Battle of New Orleans, the State of Tennessee presented General Andrew Jackson with a ceremonial sword on the front steps of the church. It survived until a fire destroyed it in 1832.
Rebuilding in that year, on the same site, the second building hosted the Inauguration of James K. Polk as Governor of Tennessee. That building burned down in 1848. The congregation then hired the Philadelphia architect William Strickland, who was in Tennessee to design and supervise the construction of the Tennessee State Capitol building, to design the present building.
During the Civil War the building was seized by the United States government, and used as a hospital. Receiving reparations after the war, the congregation began the process of finishing the interior and exterior of the structure. When it was built, the congregation had only about 350 members, but they had built a space to seat over 1000 and ran out of money to finish the building. The columns were put in place in 1871, as well as the entablature. In 1880, the interior was reconfigured and decorated.
The organ was enlarged in 1914, to 2,100 pipes, with an antiphonal organ and chimes. During the great floods of 1927 and 1937, flood victims were sheltered in the church. Soldiers on leave in Nashville during World War II slept in the church by the thousands during that war.
By 1954, the First Church congregation was thinking of leaving the city and moving out to the suburbs. By vote they did so, and through the encouragement of the National Trust for Historic Preservation and local efforts, they were convinced not to tear down the building for a parking garage site. Instead, they were prevailed upon to sell it to their own members who did not wish to leave Downtown Nashville.
So, in 1955 The Downtown Presbyterian Church was formed. It has continued to minister to the needs of the city from this prime location. In 2001, on the 150th anniversary of the completion of the building, the ceiling and lighting were redone in the sanctuary. The sky panels were restored, and the lighting level was increased.
Today DPC stands ready for another 150 years of service to the city.