Summit County, Ohio
First Methodist Episcopal Church
Perhaps as early as 1830, a small M. E. class was organized in South Akron, and meetings held with such occasional ministrations as could be secured, Rev. John Janes, of the North Ohio Conference, among the number. Just when a church organization was effected is not now ascertainable, though it was sometime previous to the arrival of the writer in the village, in the Summer of 1835, its meetings being then held in the school house, corner of South Broadway and Middlebury streets.
In 1836 the erection of a house of worship, 40x50 feet in size, was commenced immediately east of the present brick structure, corner of Church street and Broadway, which was completed and occupied the latter part of the following year. In the latter part of the Winter of 1840-41 a protracted meeting of several weeks duration, was held, during which, on the morning of March 17, 1841, the house was destroyed by fire, presumably from a defective flue, or from ignition of some portion of the woodwork, from the superheated stoves, the weather of the night before, while the services were in progress, having been intensely cold, though it was uncharitably and unchristianly insinuated by each of the two factions who were at loggerheads on questions connected with the building of the church, that the house had been purposely fired by the other faction.
The house was soon afterwards rebuilt, upon the same foundation, facing west, as before, but in 1861, under the pastorate of Rev. J. D. Norton, the house was enlarged and remodeled, and made to front on Broadway, at a cost of $3,500. During the Centennial year of Methodism in America, 1866, the sum of $30,000 was contributed towards the erection of a new house of worship that should be commensurate with the rapidly increasing needs of the society, and a fitting memorial to the beneficent aims and objects of the denomination and a credit to the city.
The new structure was commenced in the Spring of 1867, immediately west of the old, the Sunday School room, lecture room, etc., being dedicated on the 15th day of April, 1875, the old building being at this time sold to Mr. Ferd. Schumacher, who, moving it to the corner of Mill and Summit streets, fitted it up into a hotel called the "Cascade House," subsequently removing it to the corner of Mill and Broadway, where it is still doing duty as a part of the " Windsor Hotel, " though so disguised by its brick veneering as to be altogether unrecognizable by the former worshippers therein.
The auditorium of the new structure was completed in the Autumn of 1871, and dedicated in January, 1872, at which time over $32,000 was subscribed to clear the church from debt, the total cost of the new structure, furnishing, etc., being about $128,000. It is a fine building, both externally and internally, and its Sunday School rooms, planned by Messrs. Lewis Miller and Jacob Snyder, pronounced at the time to be the best in the world, though many others have since been modeled therefrom, both in the cities of the United States and by Europe.
Successive ministers to the church have been as follows:
1836, Thomas Carr and John F. Holmes;
1837, Daniel M. Stearns and Thomas Graham;
1838, Horatio N. Stearns;
1839, John Robinson and Caleb Brown;
1840, John Robinson and Benjamin K. Maltby;
1841, Ira Eddy and James O. Wood;
1842, Dr. Timothy Goodwin;
1843, William H. Hunter;
1844-45, Edwin J. Kinney;
1846, Samuel Gregg;
1847, James R. Locke;
1848, Martin C. Briggs;
1849, Reuben J. Edwards;
1850-51, Ezra Jones;
1852-53, John Tribby;
1854, Gaylord B. Hawkins;
1855-56, William F. Day;
1857-58, George W. Clarke;
1859, Thomas Stubbs;
1860-61, John D. Norton;
1862-63, John Peate;
1864, E. A. Johnson;
1865, '66, '67, D. C. Osborne;
1868, 1869, '70. and till August, 1871, Dr. William F. Day;
1871 to 1874, W. W. Ramsay;
1874 to 1877, Henry Baker;
1877, I. A. Pierce;
1878 to 1881. W. W. Case;
1881 to 1884, W. H. Pearce;
1884 to 1887, E. K. Young;
1887 to 1889, B. T. Vincent;
1889 to present time, Dr. Gilbert De La Matyr.
Present membership, 1149; scholars in Sunday School, 1069; Lewis Miller, Superintendent. Without disparagement to other faithful workers and liberal givers in this church, it may justly be said, that to the munificence of Mr. Miller is the society very largely indebted for its present handsome church edifice, and, to his wise management, for the unprecedented success and prosperity of its model Sunday School.
Note: See Biographies: Rev. William Farnham Day, D.D.
[Source: "Fifty Years and over of Akron & Summit Co.," 1892, - CD - Sub by FoFG
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