Saturday, July 14, 2018

This Week in Texas Methodist History July 15

Polk Street Amarillo Opens New Building, Pays Off Debt, July 1907

Polk Street UMC in Amarillo was founded in 1888 and has worshiped in several buildings in its illustrious history.    Here is the text from the THC historical marker, awarded in 2015

The congregation of the Methodist Episcopal Church, south was organized on November 23, 1888, by Rev. Isaac Mills, Rev. Jerome Haralson and eight members. The church held title to Parker’s Chapel, the first church building constructed in Amarillo in 1889. The building initially housed several denominations that later organized and moved into their own buildings. The Methodist congregation grew significantly and, less than ten years later, it was clear that a much larger building was needed. In 1899, Rev. J.A. Whitehurst arrived in Amarillo and deeded a lot on Polk Street to the congregation. A gothic revival white-frame church was constructed by W.J. Beck in 1902. Known as the “white church,” it served the congregation for five years before it was moved across the street to make room for construction of a new, two-story Romanesque Revival Style brick church. In 1908, the church changed its name to Polk Street Methodist Church. As attendance grew to over 2,000, the church outgrew its third campus. The Reuben Harrison Hunt Company designed this Gothic Revival Brick structure on Polk Street six blocks south of the previous church. The new building opened in 1928 with additions in 1953 and 2012. Details include pointed arched openings, parapeted gables with limestone coping, lancets, pinnacles and pedimented buttresses. Built with Tudor details, including stained glass windows, the church is designed to be more than a house of worship. Theological education classes are held in the building’s many classrooms and community organizations utilize the large meeting halls. This beautiful, historic landmark was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1992.

As you can read from the marker text, the 1907 church was replacing a building that was only 5 years old and it would last only 20 years itself. 
There were about 3000 persons present at the July 1907 opening, and the $33,000 building was still $8,400 short of paying for construction costs.  Naturally Rev. C. N. Ferguson called for pledges to pay off the debt, and over $9,000 was pledged.  It was a grand day for Methodists in Amarillo.


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