History of First United Methodist Church

Years of Early Church

The 1854 English M. E. Church that faced St. Matthews Church

Earlier records not found regarding the English or German Mt. Vernon M. E. churches

1851 M. E. Church on March 12, voted to build a new church for estimated $5,000

1852 M. E. Church sold their old church to the German M. E. Church for $1,200 

1853 M. E. Church raised $3,750, including the $1,200 sale proceeds, for a new church building

1853 Mt Vernon M. E. Church bought lot #100 on Walnut Street for $330

1853 Edward Brown, church member & construction supervisor, drafted church plans for $2

1853 M. E. Church work began on June 24, 1853

1854 Church building was completed on June 19, 1854

1854 Church cost $5,500 with a $600 debt remaining

1854 Mount Vernon had 3 graveled city blocks on Main Street, other streets were dirt

The 1854 English church building lot #100 was 60 feet by 125 feet, well drained

The church building was 75 feet long by 47 feet wide; side walls were 33 feet high

Exterior brick walls were the largest and highest in Mt Vernon

Early brick construction was dangerous and expensive

Early brick construction required soft and hard bricks

The church brick was painted up to 3 feet above grade for weather-proofing

Church out-buildings were one or 2 privy toilets and a heating wood/coal house with 2 bunkers

The church gable roof peak was 45 feet high; the bell tower spire was about 90 feet high

Wood was used for heating until coal heat became abundant after the Civil War

The lower room (basement) was the lecture room, 2 class rooms and a coal furnace room

The upper room (2nd floor) was the audience room; choir occupied and later abandoned “the gallery”

Two spiral or winding stairs entered into the audience room from the foyer

The church roof was painted (no other information was found)

The church had wood gutters (a high quality accessory)

Lumber was popular lumber cut from timber forest on east side of Mt Vernon

Audience room floor was tongue and groove, hand grooved

Early church windows had stained glass and oiled paper

The interior church walls were lath and plaster with wall paper and/or paint

The church had hand pumped organs in lecture and audience rooms

Earliest lighting was from whale or animal oil lamps and very expensive candles

Coal-oil or kerosene lamps were introduced after the Civil War

Gas lights and chandlers were introduced in 1881

Church had considerable bell tower problems in mid-1880s

Church undertook a major repair and remodeling program in mid-1880s

Church borrowed $500 from Masonic Lodge

In the 1880s, the church was very concerned with member dancing, card playing and other “disorders.”
Dismissals and suspensions took place occasionally

In the 1880s, the church paid the minister $800 per year with use of the parsonage

Church yard weeds were cut by sickle or scythe during the summer (perhaps twice)

A new, heavier steeple bell was purchased in 1886 for $176, old lighter bell was sold

Church installed a city water yard hydrant in 1886

Church membership was, about, 300 members in 1887

Electric lights were installed fall of 1891

A hot air furnace was installed fall of 1893

The church used wine for communion

The church had Sunday and Wednesday evening meetings

The church seldom had a significant cash balance, often less than $5 on hand

The church had several annual fund raisers: oyster dinners, boat & train excursions, ice cream socials, strawberry festivals, revivals, etc.

One or 2 church members typically had police powers; designated by the mayor.

NOTE: Unknown if the tall bell tower was part of the 1854 church or when the bell tower was removed.