**Click to enlarge pictures
OUR HERITAGE IN THE HISTORY OF
EMMANUEL UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
Methodism in this part of West Virginia, which was then Virginia, dates to 1784 or possibly 1774. The Greenbrier Circuit included 7 counties, among them the present counties of Monroe, Greenbrier, and Pocahontas, was established in 1787. Bishop Francis Asbury held a quarterly conference at Rehoboth located in Union, WV in 1788.
The earliest "class" of Methodist worship in White Sulphur Springs was organized about 1828. Although earlier, in June 1813, Lorenzo Dow, whose wife was with him and was afflicted with rheumatism, spent over 3 weeks at White Sulphur Springs for his wife's health. During that stay he held several meetings at White Sulphur and the surrounding area, as far as Sweet Springs. Dow is said to have remarked that the many people who visited the springs for pleasure and for the restoration of their health were very light-hearted and pleasure seeking, but were also "very attentive when he spoke to them of heavenly things". He also said that he visited new neighborhoods unknown to him before "though the devil ruled these parts."
From about 1828 to 1858 services were held in a log school house in what is now the eastern part of town, said to be the present site of Green Hill Cemetery.
One of the early supporters of Methodism in White Sulphur Springs was David Watts, who, settling there in 1837. Watts was a staunch supporter for many years. In 1858 he, William H. Garing, John F. Garing, and Thomas A. Moore laid plans for a new church. With Thomas E. Carson as pastor, in 1859 a lot was secured from the White Sulphur Springs Company on the eastern side of the front gate to the springs property.
The lot was deeded from the White Sulphur Springs Company to Jeremiah Morton, President of the White Sulphur Springs Company, Allen D. Caperton, Union, WV, William B. Caldwell, White Sulphur Springs, WV, Richard Henry Dulaney, Loudon County, VA, Samuel Price, Lewisburg, WV; Trustees, for the use of those of the "Methodist persuasion living in the vicinity of, or who may be visiting White Sulphur Springs."
The handsome, substantial red brick building was not completed until 12 years later, in 1871. The delay was caused by Civil War activities in the area. As can be seen in the far left and middle images above, there were 2 levels. The upper part containing the sanctuary was used in the warm seasons only as it was not heated. The lower level was in use during cold weather and was heated by small stoves. A considerable portion of construction was evidently done during the early part of the 12 year period because on August 15, 1860 the trustees listed a debt of $2,700 on the building, which was paid on March 1, 1861. The completion in 1871 was under the pastorate of Rev. James T. Clark.
No record has been found as to what accommodations were provided for the pastor during this long period 1828-1900. But, on September 3, 1900 a deed was made by John F. Garing and Edna Garing, his wife, to A. E. Huddleston, John F. Garing, R. H. Brackman, S. V. P. Gillespie, and W. H. Mann, Trustees, for a lot "on the south side of Sweet Springs Turnpike (now Dry Creek Road) in trust - as a place of residence for the use and occupancy of the preacher of the Methodist Episcopal church, South who may be from time to time appointed in said place: subject to the usage and discipline of said church as from time to time authorized and declared by the general conference and by the annual conference within whose bounds the said premises are situated." The parsonage on this lot was later sold and with some changes, is now known as the Hanna house.
In the early 1900s the growth of the town of White Sulphur Springs put the major portion of the congregation at a continual greater distance from the church therefore, it was declared to relocated to a more central place. It was important that a church be located in proximity to the residences of its members because most people walked to church. Parking lots at that time contained hitching posts, also sheds to shelter the horses in bad weather and to shade them from the sun.
The new church was completed in 1908, at the corner of what is now Dry Creek Road and Tressel Street, the Rev. J. H. Schooley was the pastor. As can be seen from the above image on the far right, it was of totally difference design and was in keeping with the plan of many other Methodist churches of that period. Central heating made it possible to use the whole building year round. However, some brides found fault with it because it had no center aisle.
Repairs and additions were made in 1921 with the Rev. J. C. Hooks as Pastor. With additional work done at about the time
Rev. J. W. Rosenberger was pastor.
More extensive alterations and additions, with the Pastorate of Rev. G. G. Oliver, were constructed in 1927. Mr. Oliver, himself, designated the changes. This building activity culminated in 1928 with completion of the quarters for the Sunday School.
On the morning of Sunday, December 9, 1945 and explosion in the coal burning furnace set fire to the church and resulted in its destruction. As the fire occured before the morning service, there were no injuries nor fatalities to the congregation. During 1946 and 1947 church services were held in the White Sulphur Springs High School. Sunday School classes were held in the school and in the White Sulphur Community House.
Rev. James C. Fisher led the planning, for rebuilding, in 1946. A committee visited churches in adjoining communities and states seeking designs. Construction was started with the new church completed in 1948. The first service was held on Easter Sunday by the Rev. Alvin C. Young.
An extensive educational building, attached to the new church, was finished in 1951. Under the Pastorate of Rev. S. D. Rexrode, in 1955 all indebtness was paid in full and the new structure was dedicated in 1956 by Bishop Lloyd C. Wicke.
1957 saw the purchase of the Tressel Street Property adjoining the church on the west side. The old parsonage, on the east side of the church building was too close and had become difficult to keep in repair, so a new home for the pastor was constructed in 1961 on the Tressel Street lot, while Rev. Charles W. Paskel was pastor.
During this period the church acquired the right-of-way of the discontinued White Sulphur and Huntersville Branch of the C & O Railroad. This ran through the property directly behind the educational building, where the back parking lot is now located.
In 1967 the church property was further enlarged by the purchase of the Garing property. This 1-1/2 acre lot, adjoining on the south, was acquired from the John F. Campbell estate.
Thus, 125 years, 1 move, and 3 buildings, have brought Emmanuel United Methodist Church to its present state, as beautiful facility dedicated to the worship of God Almighty.
***The above text was complied in 1996 by Paul Creel, previous church historian, for preparation of the 125 year homecoming. (edits to the above information have been made in 2018)