Williamson County
Historical Commission

 

 

First United Methodist Church
of Bartlett

Historical Marker
Bartlett, Texas

FM 487 Clark  & S. Cotrell St.

 
 
First Methodist Church of Bartlett Marker Text

Organized between 1870 and 1875 as the Indian Creek Church, this congregation moved to Bartlett about 1885. Services were held in a store, schoolhouse, and Baptist church before construction of a Methodist church in 1890. Built in 1896, the present sanctuary was enlarged in 1912 and dedicated on June 19, 1921, after a donation by Mrs. S. T. Morrison helped pay the debt. Dedication speaker was the Rev. H. A. Boaz, an early pastor here who later became a bishop and president of Southern Methodist University. The fellowship grew from 13 members to a peak of 310 in the late 1950s.



 

   
  First United Methodist Church of Bartlett
Historical Narrative by Nora Mae Ford and Melba Schwertner

The first Methodist Church organization in the Bartlett area was Indian Creek Church, Salado and Davilla charge, and was founded between 1870 and 1875. Worship services were held in the Indian Creek School house.

Between 1883 - 1885 this congregation moved to Bartlett and services were held in a store building, later in the school house, and still later in the Baptist Church. [1]

In 1887, Bartlett was made an appointment of the Salado Circuit with Reverend J. J. Crockett as pastor.

"The Bartlett Circuit was made at the N. W. Annual Conference, assembled in Belton, Texas, November 12, 1889, Bishop J. A. Key, presiding.

It was made from parts of three circuits, Holland and Hackberry, taken from the old Holland Circuit; Bartlett, from the Salado Circuit; and Granger and Macedonia from the Corn Hill Circuit. Hiram A. Boaz was appointed first preacher. [2]

In 1890, the first Methodist Church building was erected in Bartlett at a cost of $2,000.00. Reverend H. A. Boaz was named pastor in charge. Reverend Horace Bishop, presiding elder of the Georgetown district presided at the dedication service. Reverend Boaz was later known as Bishop Boaz. The members at this time were: Mrs. Robert Rowntree, Mrs. W. N. Stevens, Mrs. O. L. Cowsert, Mrs. J. t. Schrock, Mrs. G. C. King, Mr. and Mrs. J. D. Laughlin, Mr. and Mrs. W. McGinnis, Miss Sara Laughlin, Miss Dora Tribble, Miss Emma Laughlin and Mrs. W. V. Irvin. The church building was destroyed by a storm in 1894, but was rebuilt the same year. Then in 1896, the church and parsonage were both destroyed by fire.

The church which was built in 1896 was erected on the present site of the United Methodist Church today. The building is located on lot 4, block 39, W. C. Wilson Survey, original townsite of Bartlett, Texas. This property was bought from J. J. and Ada Pigott for $225.00 and was recorded on March 8, 1897. [3] The trustees who signed the deed were J. M. Laughlin, W. P. Powell, and J. V. Martin. The church is located on Clark Street in Bartlett.

Upon moving to Bartlett in 1898, Mr. C. C. Bailey wrote, "We found a small but new building which was inadequate for the growing church of that day. During a revival conducted by Reverend M. S. Hotchkiss, in the pastorate of Reverend E. B. Chenoweth, a meeting of the membership was held to discuss the question of erecting a larger building. A tentative subscription was taken and it was though by those present $8,000.00 could be raised by subscription. This took several years of work and planning of this congregation. [4]

The following were named to the building committee: Dr. W. J. Harlan, C. C. Bailey, W. C. Rice, J. M. Allen, C. M. Gillispie, E. L. Hardin, and Robert Rowntree. On May 11, 1911, this committee contracted with Flanders and Flanders, architects of Dallas for plans for the proposed building to the west section of the original church proper.

In September, 1912, during the pastorate of Reverend J. B. Berry, construction on the building began, the foundation having been previously laid.5 Members of the Christian Church invited the Methodist Church members to use their building as they were without a pastor. The money which had been raised was spent and the building had not been completed, so on July 5, 1913, the committee procured a loan from the Mercantile Trust Company of St. Louis, Missouri upon the church with an additional guarantee of the individual members of the building committee. This loan was payable in installments, the last one in 1918. During this time, the loan had been reduced to $5,000.00. In the meantime the men of the building committee had borrowed money from Peter to pay Paul. They borrowed from the Board of Church Extension at Louisville, Kentucky for a loan of $5,000.00 with which to pay off Mercantile Trust Company of St. Louis, Missouri. Because of financial problems the church was unable to meet its obligations and it became urgent that something had to be done.

The late Mrs. S. T. Morrison, grandmother of Roy Woody of Belton, a former member gave a check for $4,000.00 on May 30, 1921, on condition that other members raise the remaining $2,000.00. This generous amount would clear the entire indebtedness of the church. This generous gift so heartened the membership that a quick response was made and the additional amount was raised. After ten years of sacrifice and struggle, a joyful dedication of the church was held on June 19, 1921. [6]

Reverend J. A. Siceloff was pastor of the church at that time. Reverend C. R. Wright was presiding elder of the Georgetown District and Bishop W. N. Ainsworth D. D. was president of the Central Texas Conference. Reverend H. A. Boaz, D. D., who was then president of Southern Methodist University and a former pastor of the Bartlett Church in 1889 - 1890, was the dedication speaker. Mr. and Mrs. Morrison and the building committee were highly praised for their untiring efforts during the dedication service.

The present building was planned so that a church existing on the site could be incorporated into the new structure. Both the old and new portions are of wood frame construction. Careful planning, together with a brick veneer exterior common to the entire structure, has produced a unified and harmonious entity.

The brick chosen for the walls is of mixed earth tones showing a high percentage of iron oxide in the clay. The wall bricks are layered in running bond, and support is provided by double-stepped buttresses. Twin buttresses, placed perpendicularly to each other at all corners, add both structural and esthetic strength. Single buttresses are placed at each side of the large Gothic arch windows in the north, east and west facades.

A pleasing color contrast is provided by the choice of very dark brown bricks for the buttresses, and each of the two steps of the buttresses is topped by lighted colored concrete castings. Bricks fired in kilns commonly in use around 1912 were not uniformly heated. The raw bricks stacked nearest the fire inlets were exposed to much higher temperature and
to the modifying effects of the direct flames. The final results varied. Some were "clinkers" so highly over-fired that they were useful only as unexposed filler bricks. The clay of others was melted to the point of glazing. Bricks that have been highly fired were chosen for the buttresses. These darker bricks were also incorporated into the wall to outline the major Gothic-arched windows and the Gothic-arched dual entrances.

Towers were placed at both the east and west corners of the north facade. Each has a double-door entrance reached by twelve steps. In number symbolism twelve is the universal number representing the twelve disciples and twelve tribes of Israel. The west entrance, perhaps because of the necessity of wider doors at the main entrance, has the blunt-pointed Gothic arch of the older Romanesque style. That style was used in the cathedral of Notre Dame Which was built in Paris in 1163. The narrower, more pointed, and more graceful Gothic arch of the later development has been used for the east entrance.

Each tower has a Gothic-arched stained glass window above the entrance. Their pyramidal roofs have spherical finials at each corner and larger finials at the apexes. The west tower, containing the main entry to the sanctuary, is the more developed and appointed. It also has the added height of a belfry contains three Gothic-arched opening topped with fillet and cavetto molding. The frieze of both towers have corner metopes decorated with the anthemion.

The entire structure is roofed with silver-colored embossed metal with silver-colored spherical finials at prominences and ends. The embossed roof pattern is the inverted, blunt-pointed Gothic arch from which was often used on slate-spoofed cathedrals. The blunted-arch is also ovolo, a shape symbolizing birth. Those shimmering, silvery symbols of birth, facing skyward from God's house, are indeed appropriate. They call to mind Jesus' words: "Verily, Verily, I say unto thee, except man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." Another meaningful, but hard to see, emblematic device on the roof is a centrally located shaft to ventilate the attic. Once spotted, it is most appropriate, and but another evidence of careful planning, because the font is a symbol of the regeneration of man through the word of God. What better companion to the ovolo?

Moldings used on both the exterior and interior, are modest. Frequent choices are fillet, cavetto, torus and cyma. The massive roof truss pattern, almost half of which is exposed below the sanctuary ceiling, appears to be unique in church architecture, and is impressively stated. All exposed timbers have been faced and are decorated with simple moldings. The space between timbers has been filled with oblong panels opened with cutouts of a sphere-on-dome-on-column motif of uncertain origin. Probably more exhaustive and informed research will place this unique touch into some common perspective.

The east interior wall of the sanctuary, although quite wide, is easily raised by an electrically-activated hydraulic system. This permits enlarging the sanctuary about fifty percent, and connects the earlier building with the newer part. The only notable differences in the building with the newer part. The only notable differences in the older part are narrow-board wainscoting, and earlier examples of trim on the common windows.

Twenty-three of the church's stained glass leaded windows are of imposing craftsmanship. The five largest windows contain pictured scenes. Many of the smaller ones contain common symbolism such as The All-Seeing Eye, the Agnus Dei, and the open Holy Bible. All contain the Fleur-de-lis pattern at the top. The petals are proportioned equally in the more modern representation of the equality of the persoothe Godhead. The bottom of the windows, however, have an inverted Fleur-de-lis which is a much older emblem of the Trinity, since all three persons of the Godhead are not shown to be equal. This emblem was used prior to the third century A.D. when the doctrine of the equality of the Godhead arose.

One smaller, but very pleasing detail worked into these fine examples of the art of stained glass is the use in each window of several miniature panes of pontil-marked lead crystal, with the four edges beveled on the exterior surface. The pontil mark comes from the break made by the glass blower to separate the blowpipe from the scrap which is left attached after a
finished article has been cut away. In ancient time, and even extending into our Colonial days, these "bull's eyes" were often utilized as window panes by those poor persons lucky enough to possess them.

The church continued its work during the years and the sanctuary was renovated during 1971 with new paneling, gold carpets, and Gothic style lighting. The congregation worked long and hard raising the money through Memorials, food sales, Harvest Festivals, Pancake Suppers, and donations. Reverend tarry Sullivan was the pastor.

This beautiful Church, which is a landmark in this area, has contributed greatly to all its people and continues to enrich the lives it touches. Through the hard work and dedication of the pioneers of Bartlett, the church came into existence. It is now up to us to preserve it and continue their good works.

Bibliography
Adams, Mr. E. L., Pictures of Construction.
Bailey, Mr. C. C., Photo static copy of history until 1921.
Bank, First State & Trust, Records from Safety Deposit Box.
Dedication Leaflet, First Methodist Church, Miss Bessie Skinner,
dated June 19, 1921. Shrock, Miss Martha, Interview, March 1975.
Williamson County Clerk, Deed Records of Williamson County.
Wright, Col. Robert L., Interview, April 1975.


1 - Memoirs of Mrs. Robert Rowntree (1880 - 1970).
2 - Church Register, Dated January, 1890, Signed by H. A. Boaz.
3 - Williamson County Deed Records, Deed Book 78, p. 597-598.
4 - Photo static copy of history written and signed by C. C. Bailey.
5 - Picture of construction given by Mr. E. L. Adams, Construction crew, 1912.
6 - Dedication Leaflet, Dated June 19, 1921.

written by
Mrs. Nora Mae Ford Bartlett, Texas - Mrs. Stanley Schwertner Schwertner, Texas



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