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Galena United Methodist Church - Galena, Illinois
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member iconions
N 42° 24.968 W 090° 25.798
15T E 711457 N 4699180
Quick Description: This two-story brown brick Romanesque Revival building is located at 125 S Bench Street in Galena, Illinois.
Location: Illinois, United States
Date Posted: 5/17/2019 12:55:11 PM
Waymark Code: WM10JRM
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member Bear and Ragged
Views: 0

Long Description:
This is one of several churches that are along Bench Street. Bench Street is half-way on the bluff above the Galena River and gives people overlooking the town a great view from the other side of the river, especially the great steeples rising from these older churches.

The Oldest Methodist Church in Northern Illinois:
In 1829 the first regularly appointed Methodist minister arrived in Galena. By 1832 a plain frame church was erected on Bench Street, but was lost to fire in 1838. A new building was built in 1841, and by 1856 the congregation had grown so that yet another new brick and stone church needed to be built. The present church was dedicated in 1857.

Ulysses S. Grant worshiped here regularly from 1859 to 1861.

Twelve (12) Historic Stained Glass Windows:
When the new church was built in 1856, members of the congregation donated several of the 12 stained glass windows outlining the church.

Between 1984 and 1987, the fellowship committed to restore ten of the windows. The final two were restored in 1991.

1880's Moline Pipe Organ:
Behind the alter you will find the 18-rank, 1880's Pipe Organ. In 1959 the organ was totally rebuilt and once again in 1999, the organ underwent major restoration.

The church had it's birth in 1828-29. According to the records, it had the distinction of receiving the first regularly appointed Methodist minister ever sent to the white settlers within the bounds of the Rock River Conference. As indicated in those records, Peter Cartwright was appointed Presiding Elder of the Illinois Conference; John Dew was appointed to the Galena Mission; Isaac Scarrit to the Pottawatomie (Indian) Mission. The Illinois Conference at that time included the entire state of Illinois, two circuits in Indiana and the whole Northwest Territory.

Although John Dew was the first appointed minister to this church, a local preacher, Reeves Carmack, had been preaching as opportunity presented. He and his wife and four others made up the congregation of the organized church. Mr. Carmack was probably an ordained minister as there were frequent notice in the Galena Advertiser of marriages performed by him. John Dew remained in Galena only one year. He was replaced by Benjamin C. Stephenson. At the close of 1828, membership was reported at twelve, a gain of six members. In 1830, when the Rev. Smith L. Robinson came to serve the church, he remained for two years and at the end of the first year he reported 75 members.

In 1833, a frame church was built on Bench Street between Washington and Green Streets. That building of stone and brick was commenced immediately and it was finished and dedicated in 1841. The little brick home clinging to the hillside at the end of the church lot and facing Prospect Street was the first parsonage.

The congregation eventually outgrew its building and the present edifice was erected in 1856 and dedicated on January 18, 1857, by Bishop Ames. In their report to the Quarterly Conference of the Galena church on February 1, 1858, the Board of Trustees stated their satisfaction with the completion of a structure that would accommodate and "comfortably seat all who may worship with us." The cost of the enterprise was $21,459.83. The old church building two lots south of the new building was retained for "parish house" activities and community meetings and was knows as Harris Hall. It was eventually sold to the Odd Fellows. Click Here For 1858 Quarterly Conference Report:

In 1963-64, the old parsonage which had been built in 1894 just North of the church, was converted to an Educational Unit. A modern home with garage which had been built on the site of Harris Hall was purchased and is currently the parsonage. During a period of financial difficulty in 1979, the Educational Unit was sold. It's new owners, appreciating it's historic value to Galena, restored it.

The Rev. John H. Vincent, who later became a Bishop, served this church from 1859-1861. During those years, Captain Ulysses S. Grant regularly worshipped here. After the he attended the services whenever he was in Galena. The pew he occupied is marked with a small U.S. Flag.

Bishop Vincent, while he was in Galena, formed his Palestine classes, which became the great Chautauqua movement so popular during the 19th century and early 20th century.

The historic Moline pipe organ had been installed in the 1880's. In fact, Mrs. Norris who graduated from a music academy in Chicago in 1883, became the organist in 1885 and continued for 38 years. The organ was rebuilt in 1959 at a cost of $5,200.

The years 1980-1988 marked a period of growth and commitment in the church and many changes and improvements to the physical plant took place. During 1981, the pews were repaired, refinished and seat cushions were added. Restoration of the stained glass windows (1984-1987) became a reality as the fellowship committed $100,300 for restoring the ten of twelve windows. In 1988, at a cost of $77,000, the entire first floor of the church building was remodeled. This included a new nursery, restroom, pastor's office, conference room, and secretary's office. The entire floor including the fellowship hall was carpeted and many storage units were added. These restorations and renovations were made possible by individual pledges, memorials and bequests, and are paid in full.

Because of this past faithfulness, the 1990's were a time of great mission opportunities, as the congregation involved itself in local service and outreach ministry, thereby proclaiming the good news of the Gospel to all.

To bring the church into the 21st century and in order to welcome all into our community, the church began the process of installing an elevator and making the church handicapped accessible.

- Galena First United Methodist Church

Current name: Galena United Methodist Church

Architect: Oliver Marble

Builder: Stone mason - Strott and Recht.
Brick mason - Thomas Scott and Company

Developer: Marble and Smith

Style: Gothic Revival. Steeple

Historical Summary: The 1,200 pound bell was installed in 1868. U.S. Grant and family attended church here.

Architectural Description: This is a 2-story church in the Gothic Revival style built in 1856. The foundation is not visible. Exterior walls are brick. The building has a front-gable roof clad in asphalt shingles. Windows are original wood 1/1 double- or single-hung, stained glass, round arch, stone sills and lintels. Doors are historic wood paneled.

- Historic Architecture Survey Database

National Register Building Details
125 S. Bench Street First Methodist Episcopal Church C 1856 Romanesque Revival

- National Register Application

Active church?: Yes

Year Built: 1858

Service times:
10:30am Sunday

Website: [Web Link]

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