The First Christian Church of Olathe is a congregation of the larger body called Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada. The “Disciples of Christ” has more than half a million members in more than 3,000 congregations. Our denomination was founded in the United States in the early 1800’s.
The territory of Kansas was nine months shy of becoming the 34th state, when evangelists G. W. Hutchinson and Pardee Butler (pictured to the left) organized the Christian Church in Olathe. It was April 16, 1860. The town, founded just three years prior, was a small pioneer settlement near where the Santa Fe and Oregon Trails split.
When the 16’ x 24’ frame structure was erected on Kansas Avenue, it became the first church building in Olathe. It was used as a day school as well as a house of worship. The church grew and by 1869, the congregation erected a new church building on the corner of Willie and Park.
In 1881, the Santa Fe depot was to be built on the spot where the church stood. Therefore, the congregation moved their building to the corner of Loula and Chestnut. Growth continued and in 1887, Harry D. Smith, the “Boy Preacher,” held a revival which added many more members. It became apparent that another facility would have to be built. They sold their building to Mr. John Keepers. He had it moved to the south part of town, which freed the congregation to again begin new construction.
By the fall of 1888, the new building was dedicated. Later, in 1915, an assembly hall was added under the entire structure and, through the direction of Mrs. Sam Kelley, a children’s department was formed which became a model for churches throughout the state.
Things went well until Christmas Eve in 1924. Just before the Christmas program was to be presented the church was destroyed by fire. In the face of such a blow the congregation refused to be discouraged and plans were made to begin another construction. On April 4, 1926 the new facility was dedicated. The newer, two-story Education Wing was completed in 1968.