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Ward-Thomas Museum

Ohio Association of Historical Societies and Museums

Five images of buildings and grounds

First Methodist Church

Ward — Thomas Museum
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Residence of Mr. Ebenezer Rowley
Residence of Mr. Ebenezer Rowley

After the first church was consumed by flames, a second church was built on the same site in 1871 and this church too was destroyed by fire in 1883.

After the first church was consumed by flames, a second church was built on the same site in 1871 and this church too was destroyed by fire in 1883.

First United Methodist Church.

The first pioneer families who came to Niles found themselves m a rough, raw settlement that was struggling to survive on the brink of a harsh frontier. Few of the amenities of the eastern seaboard were to be found here, and the early community waited long before it was able to provide regular schools and organized churches.

These first settlers were Protestants, representing many different denominations, none of which was large enough to organize a church congregation and establish a permanent house of worship. Small groups of worshippers met in private homes for years, but there was not a single organized church in Weathersfield Township until 1839. This was many years after the first church has been established in the county, so that Niles worshippers were constrained to go to Youngstown, Warren, or Howland to attend services they preferred.

Methodist ministers were noted for their field work and their willingness to evangelize in distant places. It was one such preacher, the Rev. Samuel Lane, a circuit rider, who occasionally preached at the Rowley home. Methodists had been assembling for services as early as 1814 in the home of Ebenezer Rowley, located on North Main Street. It was located on North Main Street on what is now the grounds of the McKinley Memorial. The house is still standing at 22 Wagstaff Ave. (1976) having been moved there in 1918 when the Memorial was built.

The Methodist Episcopal Church was established in 1839 with six persons in the first class, including Mr. and Mrs. Bowman, Mr. and Mrs. Gray, Mrs. Nancy McKinley, mother of the future president of the United States, Mrs. Chasity Van Wye. William McKinley, Sr. and Josiah Robbins were appointed trustees to manage the building of the church.

Through the efforts of Ebenezar Rowley, William McKinley, Sr., Abraham Van Wye, Thomas Anderson, the first Methodist church was organized in 1844, with the following trustees elected: Pelig Brown, Abraham Van Wye, John Fee, William McKinley, Sr., Ebenezar Rowley, Thomas Anderson, John Draa, James Blacksley and Josiah Meeks.

The first Methodist Church building was completed in 1844 on a lot donated by James Heaton, founder of Niles, on Mechanic Street now Arlington Street). The cost of the church was $750. Rev. Dillon Prosser served as the preacher in charge.

In May of 1863, John and Eliza Fee deeded to the church lot#75 with a five room house on the property located on the corner of West Park Avenue and Mechanic Street, right next to the church property.


Picture of the Methodist Episcopal Church in Niles located on the corner of West Park and Arlington Street. This building replaced the frame church that burned in 1883.

Picture of the Methodist Episcopal Church in Niles located on the corner of West Park and Arlington Street. This building replaced the frame church that burned in 1883.

This building soon became inadequate and in 1871 a larger structure was erected with a seating capacity of 800 at a building cost of $1200.00. This building was destroyed by fire in 1883. The parsonage also was badly damaged by the same fire.

For 12 months the congregation met in the old town hall and in 1884 the third Methodist church was built on the same site. It was smaller, providing for a seatingcapacity of 350 and costing $3500.00. This was the church that was dismantled in 1908 to make room for the red Pennsylvania stone sanctuary that served the Niles congregation for nearly 50 years and was destroyed by fire early on the morning of October 1, 1951.

In 1908 the old Methodist Church was sold to U. Q. Woodruff for $500. with the provision that he clear the site immediately so work might be started on the new church on the northwest corner of West Park Aveue as soon as possible. On June 14, 1908 the cornerstone was laid. Construction cost $44,000.00.

Photo of the old Methodist church which was located at the corner of Arlington and West Park Avenue before it burned down in 1951.Photo of the old Methodist church which was located at the corner of Arlington and West Park Avenue before it burned down in 1951.

PO1.358


First Methodist Church built in 1908.

Picture of the Methodist Episcopal Church in Niles located on the corner of West Park Avenue and Arlington Street. This building replaced the frame church that burned in 1883, and was dedicated in 1908. It was used by the Methodist community until it too was destroyed by fire in 1951.

Picture of the Methodist Episcopal Church in Niles located on the corner of West Park Avenue and Arlington Street. This building replaced the frame church that burned in 1883, and was dedicated in 1908. It was used by the Methodist community until it too was destroyed by fire in 1951.

Taken between 1908-1915 this view of the public park shows the Methodist Church on the right, which was dedicated in 1908. On the extreme right is the porch of the Town Hall which was moved when the Memorial was built and the public park became part of the Memorial grounds.

Taken between 1908-1915 this view of the public park shows the Methodist Church on the right, which was dedicated in 1908. On the extreme right is the porch of the Town Hall which was moved when the Memorial was built and the public park became part of the Memorial grounds.

Postcard from the dedication of the First Mehodist Church, December 20, 1908.

Postcard from the dedication of the First Mehodist Church, December 20, 1908.

The cornerstone was laid June 14, 1908, and the building dedicated December 20, 1908.

The first church had been built on site of the present parish on Park Avenue in 1844.

Second church was built in 1873 but was completely razed by fire in the fall of 1883.

Third church built on the site in 1884 continuing until dismantled in 1908.

Aerial view of downtown Niles. Red arrow indicates location of First Methodist Church.

Aerial view of downtown Niles. Red arrow indicates location of First Methodist Church.
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View of the First United Methodist Church with both parsonages on each side.


The sound of a bell, silent for decades, will be heard in Niles Sunday morning, emanating from the tower of the First Methodist Church, where it had rested unnoticed since the edifice was erected in 1908. The ringing will start at 9:00 am heralding the Rally Day observance, which opens the fall church attendance emphasis.

The bell itself, has an interesting history. It was cast in 1860 by the Hoffman Foundry Company in Cincinnati and sold to the church by the Cincinnati Bell Company. While the previous church was being razed to make way for the present structure the bell disappeared. Church members were very incensed over their loss. After the church was completed, the bell mysteriously reappeared.

However, it was not installed in the bell tower, just placed in the bell tower. This past week, V.E. Fickes, Warren steeple jack, completed the job that was started in 1908.

 

Church Bell September 29, 1949
The sound of a bell, silent for decades, will be heard in Niles Sunday morning, emanating from the tower of the First Methodist Church, where it had rested unnoticed since the edifice was erected in 1908. The ringing will start at 9:00 am heralding the Rally Day observance, which opens the fall church attendance emphasis.

To Ted Hutchings, only surviving member of the original building committee of the church, goes the honor of ringing the bell for the first time since it was used in two earlier church buildings.

To Ted Hutchings, only surviving member of the original building committee of the church, goes the honor of ringing the bell for the first time since it was used in two earlier church buildings.


First Methodist Church Groups.

Methodist Church Band

Methodist Church Band

East Ohio 1910 Conference

East Ohio 1910 Conference

East Ohio 1910 Conference

Usher's Club 1

Usher's Club 1

Usher's Club 2

Usher's Club 2

The 1915-16 Methodist Church picnic. Ernst T. Law is holding his daughter Venita Law Heinmiller. His wife, Hazel Hanson Law, is the lady in the third row on the right side in a hat with white trim.

The 1915-16 Methodist Church picnic. Ernst T. Law is holding his daughter Venita Law Heinmiller. His wife, Hazel Hanson Law, is the lady in the third row on the right side in a hat with white trim. PO1.1913

Group Photograph First Methodist Church1924

Group Photograph First Methodist Church
1924

Group Photograph First Methodist Church 1924

Group Photograph First Methodist Church
1924

Group Photograph First Methodist Church 1924

Group Photograph First Methodist Church
1924


Parsonages.

Park Avenue Parsonage

Park Avenue Parsonage

Arlington Street Parsonage

Parsonage on Arlington first remodeling

Arlington Street Parsonage

Arlington Street Parsonage

Arlington Street Parsonage

Arlington Street Parsonage

Arlington Street Parsonage

Arlington Street Parsonage

The house, now located on the site of the new parsonage, will be partially dismantled and plans call for utilization of the structural framework only. The new parsonage will be colonial in design. The exterior surface will be cedar shakes featuring a panel of rock crab orchard stone in a random rectangular pattern. The flagstone terrace at the front entrance will have a wrought iron handrail.

New Parsonage October 20, 1950
Construction will be started immediately on a new parsonage for the First Methodist Church on Arlington.

The present parsonage on West Park Avenue will be renovated and remodeled for use as a parish house.

More than $20,000 has been raised to finance the two projects. It is estimated that approximately $16,000 will be spent for construction of the new parsonage. The remainder of the money will be used for converting the present parsonage into a parish house.

Plans for the first floor as drawn up by the architect, Donald L. Bostwick, call for a large living room, a dining room, kitchen, breakfast room and lavatory.

The second floor will include three spacious bedrooms, with adequate closet space, and bathroom.

Reverend A. Robert Anderson, pastor, said the parish house, to be located on the present parsonage, will provide ideal facilities for youth activities. There will be a small chapel for mid-week services and other such activities. The parish house, when completed, will also feature modern recreational facilities. Vernon Newhard is general contractor for the construction work, C.H. Mergler is chairman of the church building committee.


October 1, 1951 Fire Destroys First United Methodist Church.

October 1, 1951 Fire Destroys First United Methodist Church.

October 1, 1951 Fire Destroys First United Methodist Church.

October 1, 1951 Fire Destroys First United Methodist Church.

Niles, Warren Fireman Fight Flames for Nearly Three Hours.
Fire discovered at 5:30 am today completely gutted the First Methodist Church at the northwest corner of Park Avenue and Arlington Street with a loss estimated at $300,000.

All contents of the Romanesque-architecture sandstone structure, erected in 1908, were destroyed except for church records saved from the office.

Insurance on the structure approximately totaled slightly over $100,000 and $20,000 on contents.

The blaze, evidently underway for some time, was discovered by William Williams of 132 Holford Street, a passerby who aroused the Reverend A. Robert Anderson, pastor, at the parsonage on Arlington Street just north of the church. Williams then ran to the Niles Fire Department a few hundred feet away and sounded the alarm.

The entire north side of the church was blazing furiously when discovered. The blaze had leaped to the roof of the three story edifice while flames were billowing from the windows.

Members of the Niles Fire Department, directed by Fire Chief James Swager, used all department equipment in battling the fire and summoned aid of two trucks from the Warren Fire Department.

Firemen turned water on the nearby parsonage on the north side of the church and parish house on the west. The recently remodeled parsonage was undamaged but some minor heat damage resulted to the parish house.

The roof of the building collapsed at the height of the fire, which was seen for many miles and attracted a huge crowd despite the early hour.

Cause was undetermined but Reverend Anderson cited possibility of defective wiring. There had been a small fire in the furnace, located in the basement on northwest side of the church, but doubt was expressed by Reverend Anderson that it resulted from the heating system.

The church was closed when the pastor left the building at 10:45 pm Sunday. Odor of smoke was noted around or after midnight and led to a check of the parsonage but nothing out of order was discovered in the area.

Men of the church and other volunteers succeeded in saving church records from the office.

Included in the entire contents destroyed were $2,500 worth of new tables and chairs for the basement acquired a few weeks ago, a new television set and recently installed public address system.

For 43 years this building was the church home for many Nilesites. On October 1, 1951 the beloved church was consumed by a fire. Immediately plans were formed to build another church. This time the congregation met in the Masonic Temple until the new church on the hillside between Crandon and Hartzell Avenue was completed in 1956.

The fire was the largest in Niles since flames swept the Wilder Manufacturing plant on November 12, 1948 with damage estimated at approximately $250,000.

Fire in February 1941 completely destroyed the First Baptist Church on Church Street, recently replaced by a handsome brick building dedicated a month ago.

October 1, 1951 Fire Destroys First United Methodist Church.PO1.2018
October 1, 1951 Fire Destroys First United Methodist Church.
October 1, 1951 Fire Destroys First United Methodist Church.

February 1953: Strong winds blew down temporary scaffold around the First Methodist Church. Burned October 1, 1951, the building is being wrecked this week.

February 1953: Strong winds blew down temporary scaffold around the First Methodist Church. Burned October 1, 1951, the building is being wrecked this week.

The Board of Trustes of the church has entered into an agreement with the Highway Wrecking Company of Youngstown, Ohio to clear the ruins of the old building. The contract was let at a cost of $925 plus salvage, and represented the lowest bid received. The highest bid was $6,000. The work is to be completed by March 1, 1953.

Sub-committees responsible for various units of the new church, to be erected on Hartzell Avenue, have been studying the proposed floor plans for the new building.

The problem at present is in keeping the total number of cubic feet within the budget.


New First Unitd Methodist Church on Hartzell Avenue.
Architect Drawing
Architect Drawing compared to actual church.

Left: Architect Drawing of new church.

Middle: Actual photo of new church.

Right: Overview of Church Construction.

 

Front View of Completed Church.

Hartzell Avenue View of Completed Church.

Back View of Completed Church.

Crandon Street View of Completed Church.

Exterior church entrance on Crandon Street.

Steel girders forming the structure of the church.

Above: Steel girders forming the structure of the church.

Center: Top of steeple being hoisted to its final position.

Right: Steeple with scaffolding in place to attach stainless steel panels.

Top of steeple being hoisted to its final position.
Steeple with scaffolding in place to attach stainless steel panels.
Steeple Construction

Steeple Construction
November 17, 1954

Steeple Construction

Steeple Construction
June 1955

A photo of the interior of the First United Methodist Church located on Crandon Avenue.

A photo of the interior of the First United Methodist Church located on Crandon Avenue.

This is the church that was constructed after the devastating fire that destroyed the church downtown. S11.99


     
     

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