“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Bowling Green in Warren County, Kentucky — The American South (East South Central)

Lower College Street

Lower College Street Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Tom Bosse, July 5, 2019
1. Lower College Street Marker
College Street was a major transportation artery into the city of Bowling Green and it was lined with an eclectic mix of businesses, residences, churches, and light industry. Two influential African American women, Cecelia Lillard and Ora Frances Porter, called this neighborhood home.

Cecelia Memorial Presbyterian Church>
Cecelia Memorial Presbyterian Church is named in honor of Cecelia Lillard. The church began in 1863 as a weekly prayer meeting held by Cecelia and her husband, David, in the Lillard home.

Reverend Edmond Brumfield, of Danville, Kentucky, visited the Lillards’ prayer meeting in hopes of organizing a Cumberland Presbyterian Church for African Americans. When constituted in 1865, the new congregation was called the Negro Cumberland Presbyterian Church. The church outgrew the Lillard home and “Mother” Cecelia declared: “We don’t have a church! We must have a church of our own!” Lillard’s family donated land behind their property for a church building, and congregation members build a frame structure. The church grew, and in 1879 it paid $2,000 for the lot and church
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building at 716 College Street, which First Christian had built in the late-1840s.

The church’s first called pastor was the energetic Reverend H.A. Gipson, who played the organ, led the singing, and preached. A gifted evangelist, Gipson once conducted a two-week revival in Bowling Green which resulted in 250 converts. Under Gipson’s leadership, and with assistance from the Presbyterian Church’s Board of Missions for Freedmen, the church organized the Bowling Green Theological Seminary for the purpose of training aspiring young black preachers. The Seminary survived for only four years, but the church’s commitment to education remained strong. Less than a decade later, the church started another school which became known as the Bowling Green Academy; it lasted from 1902 to 1933.

The church officially changed its name to Cecelia Memorial Presbyterian Church in 1926 to hone “Mother” Cecelia Lillard, who died in 1916 at the age of 109.

Cecelia Memorial Presbyterian Church

A church fan, 1989

Ora Frances Porter - Ora Frances Porter (1880 – 1970) owned a home at 715 College Street. She graduated from the Tuskegee Institute School of Nursing and was among the first registered nurses in Kentucky. She was an organizer of the George Washington Carver Community Center and the Interracial Commission, which campaigned
Lower College Street Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Tom Bosse, July 5, 2019
2. Lower College Street Marker
for civic improvements.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: African AmericansChurches & Religion. A significant historical year for this entry is 1863.
Location. 36° 59.681′ N, 86° 26.343′ W. Marker is in Bowling Green, Kentucky, in Warren County. Marker is on State Street, on the right when traveling east. This marker is located on an unnamed alley behind the Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce between 7th & 8th Streets. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Bowling Green KY 42101, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Cecelia Memorial Presbyterian Church (within shouting distance of this marker); Modern Automotive District (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Standard Filling Station No. 1 (about 300 feet away); 422 1/2 Main Street (about 600 feet away); An African American Neighborhood (about 600 feet away); Residential Architecture (about 600 feet away); College Street Commercial Development (about 600 feet away); Fountain Square (about 700 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Bowling Green.
Cecelia Presbyterian Church image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Tom Bosse, July 5, 2019
3. Cecelia Presbyterian Church
Ora Porter image. Click for full size.
4. Ora Porter
Credits. This page was last revised on September 13, 2019. It was originally submitted on September 12, 2019, by Tom Bosse of Jefferson City, Tennessee. This page has been viewed 115 times since then and 6 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on September 12, 2019, by Tom Bosse of Jefferson City, Tennessee. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.

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Jun. 4, 2023