The Presbyterian Church in Parkersburg, as we know it today, was a part of the Parkersburg Baptist Church now known as the First Baptist Church. A few Presbyterians, unable to support a church of their own, worshiped with the Baptist. The community Pastor was James McAvoy. The Reverend McAvoy soon converted to Presbyterianism. For family reasons, he moved to Athens, Ohio where he completed his transformation to becoming a Presbyterian Minister. A year later Pastor McAvoy returned and held a series of revivals; this produced the desire to form a Presbyterian Church. The interested people petitioned the Presbytery of Lexington and the First Presbyterian Church of Parkersburg was formed on February 24, 1833, fourteen years after the town of Parkersburg was established.
The Presbyterian Church of Wood County was the first in this area to experiment in racial integration. Nine of the original charter members were African-Americans. Until 1839, the group met in the Court House or the School House. The first sanctuary was built for $4,000.00.
During the 1840′s and into the 1850′s race started becoming an issue with the Civil War on the horizon. The church divided during the Reconstruction Period following the war. Calvary Presbyterian Church was formed and this separation lasted twelve years.
Beechwood Presbyterian Church began as a Sabbath School in the river home of Mrs. A. D. (Clara) Gates in 1892. Under the direction and sponsorship of First Church, a Chapel was erected in the Riverside Area. Following a flood on the Ohio River, it was moved to the Beechwood community.
The Parkersburg Iron and Steel Company relocated 105 families to the Beechwood area on December 16, 1901. These workers and their families came from Washington, Pennsylvania. The sudden impact of having this many people in one area made it too difficult to continue to hold services in each other’s homes, and many of them being Presbyterian, organized the Clara Gates Mission Chapel into Beechwood Presbyterian Church.
On September 15, 1902 the church was authorized by the Lexington Presbytery and organized October 13, 1902.
One of the first of thirty homes that the mill company built and sold was to Homer Weaver and his wife in 1902. Weaver was the construction foreman for the housing project. The Weavers are also credited with the honor of becoming the first new parents of the community with the arrival of a baby girl named Fay Elizabeth. Fay Elizabeth Weaver was the first child baptized into the new Beechwood Presbyterian Church.
Beechwood Presbyterian Church received its name due to the large number of beech trees in the area.
It’s apparent that Beechwood Presbyterian Church is no longer just a small chapel in a small community. We have grown and our church family has grown. And even as they leave us, they take a part of us with them, and we treasure the part of their lives that they shared with us.