A Church of All Seasons…
Our first Methodist minister, Rev. William Case, was welcomed by the handful of English-speaking settlers when he visited the Frenchtown settlement in 1808.
From the end of 1810, when Rev. Joseph Mitchell was assigned here, settlers held services in homes or at the Courthouse. Over the next two decades, various circuit riders organized Methodist classes and Sunday Schools.
In 1836-38, the Michigan Conference was organized and plans to raise money to build Monroe’s first Methodist Church were formed. During this period, the Wesley Chapel was built with the involvement of the whole community.
From 1846-48, the corner lot where the present church stands was purchased and a parsonage was built. The name of the church was changed to First Methodist Episcopal Church, and in 1853 extensive renovation of the church included removal of side galleries, pews and pulpit facing east instead of west, and a furnace replacing heating stoves.
1867 found the church building in disrepair and Rev. W.H. Shier took on the task of securing subscriptions for a new brick church to be built on the corner lot, the site of the parsonage. Wesley Chapel was dismantled, the parsonage moved to the chapel foundation, and the church was built and dedicated in 1871. In 1901, the name of St. Paul’s Methodist Episcopal Church was adopted.
In 1923, a disastrous fire again rallied the parishioners and community to work together to hold services while the church interior was remodeled and enhanced. From then to 1946, the generosity of many people and the work of the Ladies’ Aid Society and men’s groups saw many improvements and debts paid.
From 1954-62, major renovations included basement Sunday School rooms, repair to the church steeple, re-roofing, the erection of a 7-foot high cross, and Lecture Room improvements.
In 1975, the decision of St. Paul’s people to relocate to Cole Road property was changed and they decided to remain in the downtown location while efforts were undertaken to renovate the present site. The next ten years saw changes of a parking lot on the former parsonage property, elevator construction, installation of the musical bell tower system, and protection of the beautiful stained glass windows. 1978 saw the completion of sanctuary remodeling and the refinishing of the hand-carved pews.
In response to the need for more education space and more modern facilities, construction of a new addition to St. Paul’s was begun in 1991. The addition provided a versatile Fellowship Hall, offices, restrooms, and a kitchen equipped to serve 300.
A large part of the older building was renovated to provide classroom space and a second elevator was added, giving all access to each of the three levels of the church. The addition was completed and dedicated in the spring of 1992.
After falling slates alerted members of the Trustee Board to the need to replace the slate roof on the sanctuary - which had lasted 130+ years - the search began for a roofing contractor capable of taking on this large task. The new slate roof was completed in the summer of 2000 with the hope that it will protect our beautiful sanctuary for another 130 years.
Our fantastic organ was completely renovated with the addition of solid state circuitry.
Over the next four years, much was accomplished. The foundation in the original part of the building was repaired. Tuck pointing was done to the brick. Stained glass windows were repaired. Storm windows were installed, and air conditioning was put in the sanctuary.
In 2003 - 2004, new landscaping was designed and put in by John Fedosky. New outside lighting was also installed.
This brief history and story of our heritage is one of ordinary people doing extraordinary things because of their willingness to sacrifice and give unselfishly to preserve the past and envision future needs and build on the vision with Faith.