2018 Historic Church Tour – 1st United Methodist Church

Each December Fort Worth Texas Real Estate Sponsors a walking tour of downtown’s historic churches. On December 8th, 2018 we visited several sites and toured the sanctuaries of Saint Patrick’s Cathedral and Saint Andrew’s Episcopal Church. Other Churches along the tour route were First Baptist, First Christian and the various former sites of The First United Methodist Congregation.

Each month our walking tours cover a different story of Fort Worth’s rich history including stories about our famous citizens from the past and present, and our beautiful architectural treasures.

The story of First United Methodist Church of Fort Worth

The first preachers in the area were Methodist circuit riders. Eventually Methodist congregants built their first church building at the corner of 4th and Jones Street in 1874. The congregation at that time was known as The Fourth Street Methodist Episcopal Church. 

First United Methodist Church, 1931-present

The original frame church building (seen below in 1879) was replaced on the same site in 1887 with a larger brick building. By 1890 the congregation was known as First Methodist Church. In 1907 First Methodist relocated to a new building at 7th and Taylor where they worshipped until they moved to the current location at the corner of 5th and Henderson, uniting with the congregation of Saint Paul’s Methodist Episcopal Church.

Fourth Street Methodist Episcopal Church in 1879

In 1887 five prominent members donated $100 each to replace the frame church with a larger brick building. The frame building was moved to the rear of the lot.

Fourth Street Methodist Episcopal Church
4th @ Calhoun 1887-1908

When the congregation relocated to the corner of 7th & Taylor in 1907 they left behind the old church, which was converted into various uses including warehouse and offices. By the 1980’s an old warehouse occupied the lot. During demolition the Bass family, who now own the property, discovered the remnants of the original vestry (shown above in the red box). The decision was made to save the structure.

saved from demolition, the original vestry
First Methodist Church at 7th & Taylor 1908-1930

The Methodists Reunite

Demolition of Saint Paul Methodist Episcopal Church in 1920

While First Methodist made it’s new home at 7th and Taylor, just down the street was the “northern” congregation of the Methodist church. The congregations were divided on the issue of slavery. Saint Paul’s Methodist Episcopal Church was located at 7th and Lamar from 1890-1920 when their building was lost in a fire. Their next building was built at 10th and Burnett in 1924, and in 1930 they sold the lot at 7th & Lamar to First Methodist which later sold it to Texas Electric Service Company. “The Electric Building” still occupies that site.


Location since 1930

On the morning of October 29th, 1929 – the day of the stock market crash the congregation broke ground on their current building at 5th and Henderson. Despite a difficult economic climate the church was completed in just 12 months. The congregations of The First United Methodist Church and Saint Paul Methodist Episcopal Church united on October 30th, 1930 in their new building, nine years ahead of the official Methodist unification in 1939.


Sanctuary in 1954


The current building is built in the Neo-Gothic style and is modeled after Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. The architect, Wiley G. Clarkson also designed Fort Worth’s Masonic Temple, Cook’s Children’s Hospital and The historic Sinclair Building. The cost at the time was $1,000,000.

First United Methodist Church of Fort Worth now has over 11,000 members, making it Fort Worth’s largest congregation and one of the few big churches to still be thriving in the downtown area.

On May 3, 1922 The first radio broadcast of a church sermon on WBAP prompted J. Frank Norris, the head pastor at First Baptist Church to launch a radio station which became one of the largest religious broadcasts in the nation.

In 1955 the growing church constructed the Epworth Youth Center which is now known as the Justin Building, renamed after one of the church’s most prominent members.