Franklin United Methodist Church
Friday, December 15, 2017
Seeking, Sharing, and Serving Christ

History

 
        Franklin United Methodist Church had its beginnings as a worshiping community during the early 1800s, although The Second West Virginia Circuit was established in 1784.   These first services were held in The Union Church, a one-room frame building located west across High Street from the present Walnut Street United Methodist Church. Circuit riders made irregular visits to The Union Church, but attendance would always be at capacity, regardless of the denomination of the preacher. The Union Church bell remains as a memorial in Franklin, and is located at the Pendleton Community Building.
       As the number of Methodists in Pendleton grew, Franklin was designated as the residence of the preacher for the Franklin Circuit.  In 1855, a log homestead standing on the site of the current church property was purchased for $850 to accommodate the Preacher in Charge.  Not until 1878 did plans develop to build the current church building on Main Street under the leadership of Thomas Bowman, Joseph Skidmore, Thomas Priest, I.H. Dice, and Pastor Leonidas Butt. Construction was completed in 1881, supervised by carpenter H.H. Smally of Lilly, Virginia.  To help offset financing difficulties, some members contributed to the building fund by donating birthday and anniversary gifts, typically gold pieces and jewelry.  The brick was burned on the site, while the lumber was sawed on Smith Creek and delivered after the church was under roof.  The pews, altar rail and pulpit were hand crafted in the church. Originally, there were three sections of pews—two with ends against the north and south walls, and another section in the center. This seating arrangement created two aisles, each leading from separate doorways out of the vestibule.  The windows were transparent glass with interior walnut shutters that could be adjusted to regulate lighting. From the center of the sanctuary ceiling hung an elaborate oil chandelier and the room was heated by two wood stoves. There was an organ to accompany singing, and the choir was seated at the rear of the church.
        A joyous dedication was held in 1882, however Dr. Fred and Etta Mumaw were married there before the church was completed. The educational wing was added in 1929, but The Great Depression delayed finishing the interior, so it was unusable for several years. 
       The original log parsonage, with its brick front porch and outside kitchen, was eventually torn down to make way for the current charge residence.  The lumber was sawed from a tract of timber just west of town, near the bridge on Route 33.  James Keister of Brandywine finished his work on the new parsonage in 1895 during the pastorate of Rev. William M. Waters.
 
The below information is an excerpts from Mama Mitchell's Memories by         Katherine Kennedy Johnson Mitchell (1896-1977)  Published 1999
 
     The Methodist Church and the parsonage were next to the Priest garden.  The home of our minister was a very nice white painted house with front and side porches, completely furnished.  Several ladies of the church would renovate the parsonage every four years when a new minister arrived.  At that time, Dr. Waggoner *, his wife, and daughter, Mittie, were serving our church, as well as three county churches in our Methodist district.  Their elder daughter, Ellasue, was a missionary in Seoul, Korea.  The red brick building stood by the wide front walk at the corner of the alley.  Two long wide steps led to the solid wooden doors that led into a narrow foyer.  At one end a small door opened to a steep flight of stairs leading to the belfry and balcony, which was occupied by the colored folk when they attended Children's Day and Christmas Programs along with funerals of employers.  On the first floor a door at either side led to the front of the sanctuary.  The choir loft was on the left, up three steps and curtained with garnet velvet held by brass rings fastened to a curving brass railing.  Three rows of chairs plus the organ and  organist's chair were barely seen from the congregation. 
      The pulpit was entered by a side door by three small steps leading to the platform that held two high backed, carved chairs with red velvet cushions.  Red carpeting covered the platform and below where the communion table sat.  A curved, two food high solid walnut railing enclosed that section.  On the right front of the room were three solid benches facing the choir.  There were called Mourners Benches, where penitents sat during revivals; other times, for the children taking part in programs.  The middle section with a shoulder high divider separated the thirteen pews on either side, with short pews on the side aisles seating three or four.  The solid walnut seats had high backs and children could comfortably nap during service.  Louvered shutters covered windows on either side.  One of the Trustees used a long pole with a hook on the end to lower the windows for ventilation. 
 
*Dr. Ford C. Waggoner served the Franklin United Methodist Church from 1920-1923.