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First United Methodist Church

Religious services were held in the county before any churches were established. Because Shelby County, Ohio, was in the old circuit rider’s territory from Bellefontaine and Piqua, it is likely that services were not held every Sunday. They would be held wherever it was convenient, probably outdoors.

The first church to hold regular Sunday services in Shelby County was the Hardin Methodist-Episcopal Church. It was organized before 1819 by the Rev. Goddard at Cephas Carey’s house. This church would continue to meet in member’s homes for the next 12 years until enough funds were collected to build a permanent place of worship.

In 1829, the organizing committee paid $16 for the lot on 230 East Poplar Street to construct the Methodist Church’s first building which was opened in 1831. Construction of a second church began in 1867, but was not completed until 1874. Its original design style was in the mode of the Romanesque Revival.

In 1912, at a cost of $60,000, the building was extensively remodeled in the Spanish Mission style, with the inclusion of a basement and an additional 4,800 square feet of space. The church itself seats 800 people and at the time of this renovation, housed an auditorium, a gymnasium with bowling alley, an athletic room and a banquet room among other things. It was re-opened for services on March 29, 1914. There have been three parsonages (including the one now located next to the church) which have served over 77 ministers since 1825.

The square towers of differing heights are capped by hipped red tile roofs. A curvilinear gable connects the towers while balconies ornament the taller tower. Arches in the smooth stucco surface house semi-circular and round stained glass windows.

'Downtown' segment written in October, 1998 by Sherrie Casad-Lodge 

 

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