New Albany: Religious History

Tour curated by: University of Louisville Public History Program

Religious institutions have thrived in New Albany for nearly 200 years. This tour highlights several important congregations and other aspects of religious history. The sites featured illustrate the role of religion in southern Indiana since the early nineteenth century.

Christian denominations such as Baptists, Evangelicals, Lutherans, Methodists, Presbyterians, Roman Catholics, and United Christians have long had a presence in New Albany. These sects and others like them represent diverse European and African American heritages. Church members participated in local and nationwide social justice efforts, including the abolition of slavery and the civil rights movement. New Albany churches have confronted manifold challenges. Congregations struggled through disputes between members, financial crises, and natural disasters. Unexpected growth reached beyond the capacity of church buildings and available resources. Congregations adapted in the face of adversity. Individually and collectively, the churches of New Albany and Floyd County have an impressive record of accomplishment. Buildings representative of major trends in ecclesiastic architecture and sites of enduring religious significance are prominent today.

Locations for Tour

Presbyterians have been active in New Albany since its beginnings in 1813. The Scribner family, which founded the town, brought their Presbyterian faith with them from New England. Presbyterians in New Albany and the neighboring town of…

Wesley Chapel United Methodist Church traces its roots to the first Methodist congregation founded in New Albany. In October 1816, several settlers began meeting for prayers in a cake shop owned by Harriet Reynolds on the east side of Pearl Street. …

Dedicated in October 1977, the Holy Trinity Heritage Court commemorates the history of Roman Catholics in southern Indiana. The court marks the site of the former Holy Trinity Church. The court includes portions of the original brick foundation of…

Born in New Albany on July 20, 1892, Joseph Elmer Ritter is the best known of the religious leaders with roots in New Albany. Ritter served as Archbishop of St. Louis from 1946-1962 and as a Cardinal from 1962-1965. During that time, he advocated…

During the nineteenth-century, residents of New Albany made strong commitments to religious education. Two women’s seminaries, DePauw College for Young Ladies and Anderson Female Seminary, illustrate the importance that citizens ascribed to the…

St. Mark’s United Church of Christ reflects New Albany’s European immigrant heritage and the destruction caused by the devastating flood of 1937. During the early nineteenth century, political upheaval in what is now Germany led to massive…

Atkins Chapel is one of the oldest places of worship in southern Indiana. In 1822, Jacob Antrim, a United Brethren circuit-riding preacher, organized a church in Lafayette Township, immediately north of New Albany, in Floyds Knobs. The congregation…

St. Mary of the Knobs Catholic Church exemplifies the enduring strength of Roman Catholicism in southern Indiana. In the 1820s, Catholic priests began visiting several families in Lafayette Township, six miles north of New Albany, to celebrate mass.…