First Methodist Church

First Methodist Churchby Jerry Hogan Kasperek

Who remembers the First Methodist Church that once stood on the corner of North Fourth and Oneida streets? It’s where OCO, in its handsome new building, has been doing business for the past several years.

The First Methodist Church was a strong, beautiful and artful structure, dating back into the early 1900s or maybe even before that.

In its day, it was an architectural dream of what a church should look like. With its red bricks, shingled roof, tall towers and stained glass windows, it was a familiar sight and similar to many of our other old churches still with us today.

Think of the churches lined up on South Third Street. Start from Oneida Street and head south and the first one on your left is the old Presbyterian Church that is now known as the First United Church. Next, and on your right, is the no-longer-in-use Baptist Church, which merged with the Presbyterians some time ago.

Continuing onward a block or two, you will find the venerable old Immaculate Conception Church, now combined with the other two, closed-up Catholic churches in Fulton and renamed “Holy Trinity” — the one and only remaining Catholic Church in our fair city.

Another church worthy of taking a good look at is the State Street Methodist Church still in use on South Fourth Street. And don’t forget the Congregational Church, with its big, circular window, a hometown landmark, that used to be on the corner of West First and Broadway. It was a sad day when it was taken down with the wrecking ball not too many years ago.

Now, if your memory stretches back to 1961, you will recall that awful fire that reduced the First Methodist Church to ashes that summer. This information I gathered from Gail and Vern Drohan because I knew they were members there a long time ago, when Reverend Stewart was their minister.

The church could accommodate a very large congregation and many prominent community members belonged. The Sealright Company was well represented. There was the Frank Ash family, the Harry Gray’s, the Walter Mitchell’s, and the Clark’s.

From the business and medical communities came the Sherm Drohan’s and Dr. Eugene Anthony and family. (Just about every body in town went to Dr. Anthony’s, God rest his soul, at some time or other to get their eyes examined to see if they needed glasses! I got my first prescription for bifocals there.)

Remember, if you will, it was the heyday of local doctors, dentists and lawyers, and of business and industry, when mangers, directors, CEOs, owners and operators lived among us in Little Old Fulton and took part in church, social, political and community events.

To read the rest of the column, pick up a copy of The Valley News or subscribe today by calling 598-6397

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