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Brief History of the United Methodist church in Evansville
The United Methodist church in Evansville is the oldest continuing congregation in Evansville.
Methodism came to Evansville - then known as The Grove - with the first settlers in the spring of 1839. Services were held first in Union in a log cabin and later in Evansville with the first circuit preacher commuting from Monroe every two weeks. In 1842 a log school house was built on North Madison Street in Evansville. The school house also served as a place for Sunday church services. It was not until 1845 that a 30 by 45 foot church was build on the South side of East Main Street. The outside of the building was painted white and the inside, including the split log pews, was painted lead gray. It included a big wood stove, a two story Geneva type pulpit and bare walls and floors. White curtains hung at the many-paned plain glass windows. Candles served for lighting at the evening services. Women and girls sat on the northeast corner of the church, while men and boys sat in the opposite corner.
In 1866 the first church was sold and the cemetery was moved to the Maple Hill Cemetery. The congregation was growing too large for the church and developers wanted to build a new business block on East Main Street. The present building on South Madison Street was built and was dedicated in 1867 with Samuel Fallows D.D. as the speaker. This building is the main section of the present sanctuary. It was built of cream colored Milwaukee brick and had a central spire.
With the congregation's continued growth and after much debate the parishioners decided to build a twenty foot addition on the front of the church in April 1889. At this time the central tower was removed and two towers were put on the new addition. A bell was installed in the taller one to the south. This added a vestibule and stairway to the sanctuary as well as a Sunday school room, kitchen and two storage rooms for fuel in the basement. Gothic head stained glass windows replaced the plain windows. A reopening was held February 15, 1891. In June of that year a reed pipe organ was added. The new oak pews provided a seating capacity of 400 people.
By 1956 the continued growth in membership resulted in an addition to the back of the church. This included a new heating plant, larger kitchen, 2 large bathrooms, a study and four classrooms. An open house was held in May of 1957.
Again, after many years of debate a lift was added to the north side of the sanctuary in 2009, making the church handicap accessible.