Broadway Baptist Church
In May 1870, 110 people met in the “lecture room” of Walnut Street Baptist Church to organize a new church in what was then called the “southern suburb” of Louisville. An empty lot on Broadway became the first location of the new Broadway Baptist Church.
A small building (“lecture room”) constructed on the lot became Broadway’s first home. A new sanctuary building, completed only a year later, accommodated the church’s growing, active membership. After being badly damaged by fire in 1875, the building was rebuilt and ministry continued.
Repairs and renovations were made as necessary. In the 1870’s the sanctuary was redecorated in the then fashionable colors of blue and cardinal red. Colorful, hand-painted Bible texts bordered the tops of the walls. A three-story educational building was added in 1927. In addition to classroom space, the building housed offices, a large kitchen and a gymnasium. During World War II the gym was furnished with bunks where service men could spend the night.
Broadway’s active community ministry was expanded through the fostering and organizing of several new Baptist churches. These include the Highland, Calvary, Immanuel, Highland Park, Van Buren and West Broadway congregations.
Under the leadership of several pastors, including Dr. Duke McCall (1941-1943), Broadway ministered faithfully in the downtown location for 78 years. Those years included the turbulence and change of the Great Depression and World Wars I and II.
Louisville was also changing during those years. What had been the “southern suburb” became the “inner city.” Located between the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and the W.M.U. Training School, Broadway felt the loss when those institutions relocated to Lexington Rd. In 1948 the property was sold and interim pastor Dr. Wayne Oates led the last service in the old sanctuary. Approximately 124 resident, active church members made the move from the original location to Broadway’s current location. Land was purchased before the move. The building cornerstone was laid on Thanksgiving morning, November 22, 1949. Until construction was completed, members worshiped in Southern Seminary’s Norton Hall. The first worship service was held in our present chapel July 2, 1950.
By 1954 rapid growth necessitated two Sunday morning worship services. A new building containing additional classroom space and a library was dedicated in January, 1954. Neither expansion could meet the needs of Broadway’s growing congregation. The current sanctuary and educational unit were built and dedicated in 1960. Other construction followed. Friendship Hall, along with additional classroom space, a new library, kitchen and parlor was completed in 1983. New music and office suites and a Family Life Center were occupied in 1992.
After moving to the new location, Broadway was led by three exceptionally talented and long-tenured pastors, Dr. Edwin Perry (1949-1979), Dr. Ronald Higdon (1980-2000), and Dr. Chris Caldwell (2002-2017). Many other gifted and dedicated ministerial staff members, along with countless faithful volunteers, have contributed to Broadway’s ministry during these years.
Broadway Baptist Church has grown in number and in ministry in its 140+ year history, a growth that continues in greatly expanded missions and community outreach and in the training and nurturing of those who enter its doors.