Liberti Church, in Center City Philadelphia, is committed to preserving the legacy of the Historic First Baptist Building. Since 1899, this landmark building has been serving the needs of the community, discipling generations of Christians to impact Philadelphia for the good, and inspiring worshippers to follow the call of Christ. We invite you to consider partnering with us to preserve this storied building's legacy, and prepare it for another 100 years of service to the city of Philadelphia and beyond. 

First Baptist Church is the sixth oldest congregation in the United States. Liberti Church is a growing six-year-old congregation with a strong focus on community. While different in heritage and style, both faith groups share in their commitment to serving the community and preserving the rich heritage of the many activities that take place here, which include some of the oldest support groups in the city of Philadelphia, prayer services, arts events, community gatherings, and ministries to the poor and homeless in our surrounding neighborhoods.  

Our stories came together in 2012 when Liberti began renting space from First Baptist. From the onset, this was more than a rental agreement, as we soon began partnering together to make a difference in the community.  While ownership of the building shifted in September of 2014, our partnership as two churches continues today.  

The restoration of the First Baptist Church building is being overseen by the leadership of Liberti Church Center City & Main Line congregations. Our desire is to preserve the building's rich architectural beauty and expand the many ministries and community services that have happened in this place since its construction in 1899. Liberti is also providing a newly renovated chapel for the historic First Baptist Church, so that they may continue their worship and ministry here. Two churches will call this place home, and many outreach and community services are in the works as we seek to expand our care for the neighborhood.  

1899: First Baptist Church builds the Edward Seeler-designed, Byzantine-inspired building at 17th and Sansom Sts. 

Oct. 1900: The building is dedicated and opened, becoming a center of ministry, worship and service.

1949: A fire in the sanctuary destroys the entire chancel area, the organ, pulpit furniture, and the stained glass windows in the dome.  

1950: Renovations to restore the church building are made, and it's reopened.

Dec. 2013: First Baptist Church informs Liberti Church’s leaders that they needed to sell their facility, and had an offer from a developer. Liberti’s leadership and First Baptist’s leadership begin to talk and pray about Liberti purchasing and renovating the facility.

Spring 2014: Liberti congregants give $3 million to purchase the building and begin research on needed renovations.

March 23, 2014: First Baptist Church members vote to sell their facility to Liberti Church, rather than a developer,  giving both congregations a permanent home, to continue the legacy of this place as a center of worship and service to the city!

June 2014: Liberti Church’s elders and members vote to purchase and renovate the First Baptist building.

September 2014: Liberti Church officially closes on the purchase of the First Baptist building, securing the facility debt-free.  

September 2014: Liberti launches the For the City initiative to renovate the First Baptist building and ready it for another century of worship, community, and service to the city!

November 2014: Liberti congregants commit to an additional $3.25 million in funds for renovation.


March - April, 2015: Hazardous material remediation. 

April - September, 2015: Utility and heating upgrades. 

April - October, 2015: Renovations and construction on all levels of the building. 

October/November 2015: Phase 1 project completion. 

*Phase 2 will be determined upon fundraising success.


Scope of this endeavor: To purchase and renovate the First Baptist Church building in its entirety will cost $12 million. Liberti has divided this project into two phases. Purchasing and completing Phase 1 will cost $8 million.   Liberti’s young congregation raised $6.25 million leaving $1.75 million remaining to raise to complete Phase 1.

Phase 1 of the renovation work includes necessary updates on utilities (electric, bathrooms, kitchen, HVAC), ADA compliance updates (sprinkler system, handicap accessibility, elevator installation), remodeling meeting spaces for community support groups and other ministry spaces, making repairs to the roof and other exterior needs, refreshing some of the interior (e.g. paint and carpet), and completing the renovations of a larger meeting space and worship space that will be used by First Baptist Church for worship, as well as larger support groups and community functions. At the completion of Phase 1, Liberti Church will be able to provide space for several community support groups to meet daily, a weekly homeless meal ministry, worship spaces for two churches and spaces for many other partnerships and outreaches to thrive.

IMAGES- INCLUDE 1-2 floors prints

Phase 2 of the renovation will include a remodeling of the gym in the lower level of the church for future community ministries and services, and additional large group gathering space, additional children’s classes being added or remodeled, sanctuary repairs, and additional utility upgrades for the sanctuary wing of the building. The cost for Phase 2 will be $4 million.

IMAGES- INCLUDE Floor prints for the gym level

Some of Our Contracted Organizations:

Project Management - Binswanger
Architect Firm - Wullf Architects
Construction Management - Erickson and Sons
Engineer- HPE Group