Church Expansion

When Dr. Orlo Choguill (pastor from 1945-1955) came to the First Presbyterian pulpit in 1945, he found the remnants of an aristocratic church emerging into a new post-war era. A donation from Frank Willard, who had close family Presbyterian ties including his mother and two aunts residing in Topeka, would prompt the entire renovation project. The building improvements were to occur in three stages: 1) Construction of a chapel, 2) Renovation of the basement to include what is now “Willard Hall”, and 3) Construction of the lounge/parlor area on the main floor. In 1951 Life magazine picked the 817 Harrison Street church as one of 12 in the United States which had experienced a major growth rate in recent years.