Early Days - Our first church
In the early summer of 1904, a Sunday School was organized in the two story brick school house built in 1889, and located on the southeast corner of 27th (Swan) and Indiana. This building burned in 1926. A short time later, a church was organized with Rev. Hale as pastor, who served until the spring of 1906. He was followed by Pastors E. C. Moore, E. L. Hutchins, Floyd Webb and J W. Johnson, during whose pastorate, in 1910, the charter for the Highland Park Methodist Episcopal Church was received. At that time six lots at the northwest corner of 26th Street (formerly Goldfinch) and Ohio were purchased for $800.00 as the location for the church. Construction began in 1914. The cornerstone was laid in 1915 and construction completed in 1916 at a cost of $4,153.50. The last payment was made in 1942 and the mortgage burning service was held Sunday, January 1, 1943.
This church and a Sunday School building constructed about 1930, served the growing community well until the late 1940's when it became apparent we needed to expand our facilities. Plans were drawn for a new church at the 26th and Ohio location to cost approximately $140,000.00. However; additional parking space could not be purchased adjacent to our property. As a result of these problems, twenty-four lots facing west on Michigan between 29th street, (Jay) later Dudley Road, and 30th street were purchased in August, 1950, for $6,800 to be used as the location of our new church site. March 1, 1953 the Ground Breaking Service was held and construction started for the first of three units. In May 1953, the old church was sold to the Nazarene Congregation for $22,500.00.
On May 24, the cornerstone for the first unit was laid by Bishop Dana Dawson Sunday, October 25th, the first worship service was held at 9:15 with a second service at 10:30. That evening at 7:00 Dr. R. Ernest Gordon, District Supt. delivered the sermon for the Consecration Service. Cost of the first unit including furnishings was $107,885.47.
The Service of Ground Breaking for the second unit was held on November 6, 1955. The Service for laying the cornerstone for the second unit was on May 21, 1956 at 6 P.M. Again the Litany was led by Bishop Dana Dawson. A Dedication Service upon the completion of the Second Unit was held in the Fall of 1956. Cost of the Second Unit was $81,065.78.
The first and second unit consists of all of the west side, north to the north hall, leading to the narthex of the Sanctuary.
In 1956, we successfully conducted our final building fund campaign, to be paid over a three year period. A goal of $90,000, resulted in $118,000 pledged. This was used to retire our debt on the second unit, with the remainder placed in reserve for our Sanctuary.
At the conclusion of this three year pledge, the Administrative Board and Finance Committee decided to adopt a unified budget which has been a very satisfactory way of meeting our budget.
With the widening of 29th Street, it was necessary to revise our original plans to build the Sanctuary directly north of the second unit with the pulpit in the north and with the center aisle in a direct line with the present hallway running north and south. Alternate plans were considered and the present plan was chosen which resulted in the purchase, November 9, 1956, of the Ralph Moyer property where the Sanctuary now stands for approximately $19,000.00. The house was used as our parsonage; however, before construction began on the Sanctuary, it was moved where it remained in use as the parsonage. Mr. & Mrs. Orlie Mullinix then constructed the present parsonage for our Senior Pastor and presented it to the church as a gift in honor and memory of the Potter family, in exchange for the old parsonage and site.
In 1955 a garlow and 2 1/2 lots east of the Moyer property and 2 ½ lots behind both were purchased for $10,500.00. The lots were black topped at a cost at $5000.00 and became a part of our parking area. The garlow was rented until it was necessary to have it removed to begin construction of the Sanctuary.
The Kiene & Bradley architects firm was chosen to present plans under the direction of Robert Jones. Final plans were approved and ground breaking services were held March 25th, 1962. Later that year the cornerstone was laid. Then on February 10, 1963 consecration services were held in the Sanctuary. Bishop Eugene Slater, presiding.