May is Historic Preservation Month! “Historical Marker Monday” is a new series on my blog highlighting historical markers. This week highlights the First United Methodist Church of Arlington at 313 N. Center Street.
First United Methodist Church of Arlington has its roots as the first church in the original town site of Arlington. Members began meeting in 1877/1878, a short time after Arlington was established in 1876.
The church moved to its current location at Center and Division streets in 1884, with the first church built in 1885. It was initially known as the Centenary Methodist Episcopal Church, South. Later, it was known as the First Methodist Church of Arlington. In 1968, the name was changed to First United Methodist Church of Arlington, as it’s known today.
Fire destroyed the church in 1918 and parts of it again in 1954. The congregation continued to rebuild at the same site. The Education Building, built in 1949, is the oldest part of the complex.
In addition to having a Texas Historical Marker, it is also a City of Arlington Local Landmark and a United Methodist Historic Site. There are numerous sidewalk plaques around the site, along with other plaques telling the history.
The church celebrates over 130 years of continuous service to the community and now has over 5,000 members.
Texas Historical Marker
“This congregation was established soon after the Texas and Pacific Railroad line was laid through Arlington. In 1877 the Rev. J.T. L. Annis was appointed pastor of the Arlington circuit, which served several area communities, including Arlington.
Some of the fellowship’s early worship services were held at Schultz’s Lumber Yard on Front Street. By 1900, however, a small frame church building had been erected at this site, and Sunday schools, mission activities, and a women’s division had been organized. Church membership continued to grow over the years, and facilities were added and expanded to meet the need.
Known as Centenary Methodist Episcopal Church, South, until 1948, the congregation then was called First Methodist Church of Arlington until 1968, when the current name was adopted.
First United Methodist Church of Arlington historically has been a strong supporter of youth programs, the business and professional communities, the elderly, and education. Numerous Arlington schools have been named for members of this congregation who have provided significant service to community education.” (1984)
City of Arlington Local Landmark
“In 1878, the first church in the original town site of Arlington met in the office of Shults’ Lumber Company at Mesquite and Front streets. Church members met there for nearly seven years with their first minister, Rev. J.T.L. Annis, a circuit rider. In 1884, the cornerstone for their first church building was laid at Division and Center streets and engraved with the name Centenary Methodist Episcopal Church, South, May 16, 1885. The original wood building was replaced by a brick structure in 1907. Fire destroyed this building and a second structure, which was constructed on the same foundation. The second fire, in 1954, led to the construction of the existing sanctuary.
Consecrated in 1956, this sanctuary serves as the central structure of the church complex. The architectural style is Gothic Revival with exposed wooden beams gracing the interior ceiling. There are 30 stained glass windows throughout the church. The window over the front entrance was salvaged from the 1918 church that burned. The oldest portion of the complex is the 1949 education building. The Vandergriff Chapel was added in 1965. The congregation has grown to 4,900 members and has provided over 130 years of continuous service to Arlington.” (2010)
United Methodist Historic Site
“To receive this marker, an institution must have contributed for over 100 years to the moral, cultural, educational, social, and economic development of the community in which it was founded.”
— FUMC Arlington, Texas, Historical Records website
- Our Methodist Heritage
- Senior Ministers
- Gene Patrick
- Vandergriff Chapel
- Revival Tabernacle – 1897
- Centenary Methodist Episcopal Church, South – 1907
- Centenary Methodist Episcopal Church, South – 1918
- First Methodist Sanctuary – Built 1956
- FUMC Family Life Center – 1996
Post and photos by Jason S. Sullivan, 05-10-21