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First Presbyterian Church
New Bern, NC

The present congregation of First Presbyterian Church in New Bern was organized in 1817 and by 1822 had erected this splendid colonial style meeting house in their city. The building is now restored to its original appearance and features a three sided balcony and reconstructed high pulpit with graceful curving stairs. A Fisk pipe organ (1986) compliments the original architecture and enlivens worship with its bold voice. Lively acoustics provide excellent support of choral and organ music plus congregational singing, but hinder the spoken word. It was within this historic context that we were asked to design a new speech reinforcement sound system—the church’s very first—to serve a modern congregation worshiping in their valued historic building. Our design provides excellent speech intelligibility for all listeners while imposing minimal visual impact on the elegant and refined sanctuary (as well as minimal, reversible, disruption of the historic fabric). Acoustics guidance focused on reduction of noise from existing HVAC system equipment located in the sanctuary undercroft.

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