Our History


Five years before Iowa was granted statehood, the First Presbyterian Church of Fairfield, Iowa was organized with a membership of nine men and nine women.  The date was October 2, 1841, less than two years after the village of Fairfield was established.

For two years worship services were held in the Court House or in the homes of members.  In 1843 a frame building was erected at 107 E. Briggs Ave.  This structure served the congregation until 1849, when “a fine brick building” was erected on the site of our present church at 200 S. Main St.

By 1854 the Church had 250 members and was the largest Presbyterian congregation in Iowa.  Membership fell during the ensuing years of the Civil War and then rebounded.

By 1874 the congregation had outgrown its home and voted to raze the building and erect what is the nucleus of our present structure, including the main part of the current sanctuary and the Fellowship Hall below, completed in 1876. During the following years, membership fluctuated, peaking at 600 in 1925.

The last major building project began in 1929.  An addition was constructed on the west side to enlarge the sanctuary and the lower level below, a new front entrance was added, and the “Kirk House” was built as an adjoining wing on the south, including classrooms and even a gymnasium.  In 1971 a thorough remodeling of the sanctuary was completed, including the replacement of the original stained glass windows with beautiful new ones.  Our “fine brick building” is the oldest church building in use in Fairfield.

The members of First Presbyterian Church have always been dedicated to the spreading of the gospel in word and deed to our community and the world.  Our current membership totals 105. We have been established as a strong, friendly, involved, and supportive church with wonderful traditions and meaningful worship and music.  We are proud of our heritage.  We see ourselves as a living example of those who follow Christ’s teachings. It is our hope that in 2041 we will be celebrating 200 years of worship and service to God through the Lord Jesus Christ.

Organ history and photos courtesy of Steve Berg

Steve Berg Facebook Post June 28, 2020 – used with permission

I still think this is the best church organ I’ve had the privilege to play on a regular basis. (Two are shots of the old console before the kind people of First Presbyterian agree to fund a replacement. Why I didn’t get photos of the new console — I don’t know.)


Brief History of the Organ

First Presbyterian Church, Fairfield, Iowa

First Presbyterian Church’s organ was originally built by Charles Tapp in 1911 to 1913.

A major renovation was done in 1953 to 1955 by John and Robert Beestrum and the Reuter Organ Company. This work included a new console and the addition of the Choir division to expand the organ from two manuals to three.

Reuter did further work in 1964 which included a small expansion and the relocation of pipes so that they would speak more clearly into the sanctuary.

After 1964, necessary routine maintenance was carried out to the organ, but any instrument can be expected to suffer the effects of passing time, and by 2006 the console was showing the inevitable deterioration from age. Internal wiring was becoming brittle, parts were wearing out, and replacement parts became impossible to find as newer technologies replaced old.

This congregation invested in its musical future by raising the funds to replace the console. That work was done in the early part of 2007 by Eldon Pretz, who has maintained the organ since 1994. The new console includes state-of-the-art electrical components which promise to last many years. The old, sluggish mechanical combination action is replaced by speedy and reliable electromagnets, and the number of possible preset combinations affecting the entire organ is expanded from a mere five to 990.

The new console’s computerization allows many features which were not possible when the previous console was new in 1955. Among these are MIDI jacks which allow the organ to communicate with external computers or with other MIDI-equipped instruments such as the Yamaha Clavinova which stands in the choir area, and the ability to record a piece and have the organ play it again at a later time.

GREAT (61 notes)

8’ Open Diapason

8’ Melodia

4’ Octave

4’ Flute D’Amour

2’ Fifteenth

III Fourniture Mixture


Great Unison Off, 16’, 4’

Swell to Great 16’, 8’, 4’

Choir to Great 16’, 8’, 4’

SWELL (61 notes) (expressive)

8’ Stopped Diapason

8’ Salicional

8’ Vox Celeste

8’ Aeoline

4’ Principal

4’ Flute Harmonic

8’ Oboe


Swell Unison Off, 16’, 4’

CHOIR (73 notes) (expressive)

8’ Concert Flute

8’ Dulciana

8’ Unda Maris

4’ Fugara

8’ Clarinet


Choir Unison Off, 16’, 4’

Swell to Choir 16’, 8’, 4’

PEDAL (32 notes)

16’ Bourdon

16’ Lieblich Gedeckt

8’ Octave

8’ Flute Dolce (extension)

4’ Super Octave (extension)

Great to Pedal 8’

Swell to Pedal 8’

Choir to Pedal 8’


(99 Levels of memory)

Great thumb pistons 1–6

Swell thumb pistons 1–6

Choir thumb pistons 1–6

Pedal toe studs 1–6

General thumb pistons 1–10, duplicated by toe studs

General Cancel thumb piston


Great to Pedal thumb piston and toe stud

Swell to Pedal thumb piston and toe stud

Choir to Pedal thumb piston and toe stud

Sforzando thumb piston and toe stud


General Crescendo Pedal, 16 stages, programmable

Swell Expression Pedal

Choir Expression Pedal

MIDI In and Out Jacks