First Baptist Jacksonville Continues Downtown Church Renovations

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It has been about a year since First Baptist Church Jacksonville began renovate its Lindsay Memorial auditorium serve as the main place of worship on its downtown campus.

After completing a $ 1.78 million interior renovation earlier this year, the 183-year-old church is now working on the exterior – the second phase of the building’s renovation project, which started in july.

“This [interior]the renovation provided new seating, an update to the stage to better support our music ministry, and a general update to the venue’s aesthetic, Executive Pastor Coty Hoskins told The Times-Union.

A worker cleans part of the exterior of the Lindsay Memorial Auditorium, and scaffolding covers most of the exterior of the auditorium - the main worship center of First Baptist Church Jacksonville - along the Hogan and Beaver Street from the complex.  The auditorium is undergoing repairs, renovations and exterior and interior improvements.

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Work on the church at 125 W. Ashley St. includes replacing the building siding and windows. The estimated cost of the project was around $ 1.75 million, according to a city building permit dated July 28.

“The purpose of this project was twofold. First, we wanted to tackle the outdated infrastructure that led to a recent water intrusion. Second, we wanted to update the aesthetic and improve the beauty,” Hoskins said.

Hoskins said the exterior project is expected to be completed in early 2022.

“As the downtown area continues to grow and revitalize, we are excited to be a part of the work that takes place now and into the future,” Hoskins said.

The church opened the Lindsay Auditorium in 1976 with space for approximately 3,000 people. According to a building permit, its capacity is now listed at 915. (In 1993, First Baptist opened an even larger main auditorium that can accommodate 8,000 people.)

First Baptist Church Jacksonville completed interior remodeling and upgrades to its Lindsay Memorial auditorium, which now has new benches, paint, and carpet.  Exterior work on the building is in progress.

The church is consolidating

After years of expanding its downtown campus and adding satellite churches, First Baptist has seen its membership decline steadily over the past 20 years, church leaders said.

At the same time, maintenance and infrastructure costs have increased.

In September 2019, the church congregation overwhelmingly approved plans to consolidate the 10-block campus into a single block containing neighboring Lindsay and Hobson auditoriums.

The money raised by selling the remaining church assets would pay off a $ 30 million loan that would be used to renovate the historic Hobson Auditorium into a main worship center.

In February 2020, the the church sold two buildings for $ 1.13 million to investors who told The Times-Union that they hope to build apartments at market price and perhaps add restaurants to the buildings

But that plan fell apart when the COVID-19 pandemic struck and sent the downtown real estate market into a downward spiral. Church leaders returned to the drawing board and developed an ongoing plan to remodel, repair and renovate the Lindsay Memorial Auditorium.

Money from the sale of the property along with donations from a small group of congregation members are paying for the renovation of the Lindsay Memorial auditorium, First Baptist executives said.

Lindsay Memorial Auditorium Project

  • Address: 125 W. Ashley St., between West Church and West Beaver streets in downtown Jacksonville
  • Auditorium year of construction: 1976
  • Cost of the exterior project: $ 1.75 million
  • Planned exterior completion: Early 2022
  • Contractor: Williams & Rowe Co Inc.


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