area of northwest Louisiana located just west of the Red
River was without Baptist influence until 1843. In that
year, John Bryce, a Scottish attorney and Baptist
preacher, moved from Texas to Shreveport, and two years
later he established the first Baptist congregation in
North Louisiana with nine members.1
In 1845 the congregation built a small church on the
corner of Market and Travis Streets, which suited the
members, who numbered below 100, until 1880. In 1873 the
church lost thirty of its members.2
The second stood at
the northwest corner of Texas and McNeill Streets. It
was constructed in 1880 under the leadership of Rev. J.
A. Hackett for $12,000 and stood until 1907. C. G.
Thurmond suggested that a town clock be placed in the
steeple, and the city, enthused with the idea,
contributed to the project.
The bell from the old church
In December of 1906
sold the property for $50,000 and bought lots on the
corner of Travis and McNeill Streets. The congregation
sold the church clock, gave the old organ to the
Tallahassee, Florida Baptist Church, and offered the
bell to Midway Church in 1914. The third church was
completed in October of 1908 under Rev. H. A. Sumrell
fourth church was begun in 1920 and completed in 1922.
It featured 105 rooms, a ten-story tower, a
thirteen-bell chime, four manual organs, an
air-conditioned auditorium, a tea room, and a roof
Dr. Monroe E. Dodd, pastor of the First
Baptist Church in Shreveport, spent time in France
during World War I, living with a French family whose
two daughters expressed a strong desire to study in
America. In 1925 a group of ten people known as the M.
E. Dodd Foundation bought thirty-four acres and the
following year they had a campaign to raise $200,000 for
Dodd College. The Shreveport Hall, part of the campus,
is a testimony of this campaign. The school, originally
only being a day school, opened in September of 1927.
president’s house has been listed on the National
Register of Historic Places.
In 1942 the school closed, and the property
returned to the First Baptist Church in 1959. The
present church was built on the former college campus at
601 Ockley between 1960 and 1963.
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