So much has happened in 175 years. Pictures best illustrate our church’s vibrant history.
The gallery below captures memories across decades of First Church including church leaders, different buildings, and multiple renovations. Enjoy your tour!
The Republic of Texas was created on March 2, 1836.
Sam Houston was elected President of the Republic on October 22, 1836. He would be re-elected in 1841, after a term served by Mirabeau B. Lamar.
On December 10, 1838, Mirabeau B. Lamar was elected second President.
One year later, in 1839, Rev. John Haynie was appointed to Austin, then called Waterloo, as a circuit rider for Methodism. Rev. Haynie would later be appointed as Chaplain of the Texas House of Representatives.
Rev. John Haynie organized the first Methodist society, which met in a log home like this one, south of Wooldridge Park and west of the Austin Public Library.
In 1841, Rev. Josiah Whipple was assigned to replace Rev. Haynie. With increased raids by Comanche Indians, Austin and Methodism in Texas did not grow much during the next several years.
Rev. Homer Thrall was assigned to Austin in 1845, the same year Texas was annexed by the United States. The church moved into a new building at Congress and Cedar (4th Street) and was known as the Methodist Episcopal Church South.
On and off again between 1852 and 1869, Rev. John Wesley Phillips served as pastor.
In 1853, 35 doctors gathered at the Methodist Episcopal Church South to establish the Texas State Medical Society (now the Texas Medical Association).
Also, in 1853, the Methodists sold their building to the Christian Church and purchased a red brick building at Mulberry (10th Street) and Brazos.
Under the leadership of Rev. A. E. Goodwin funds were raised for a new building to replace the red brick church.
The new church was built Roman Style and called the Central Methodist Church, then the 10th Street Methodist Church, and later, First Methodist Church.
Choir chambers in 1883.
This picture taken of Congress Avenue in 1919, shows the 10th street Methodist Church in the upper left corner.
In 1921, under Rev. E. R. Barcus, the congregation broke ground on a new church at the corner of Colorado and 12th Streets, FUMC’s current location.
On December 1, 1923, the First Methodist Church held its first service after the lower part of building was completed. The building to its right was the parsonage.
The 1923 cornerstone resides on the Northeast corner, on Colorado Street.
In 1928 under Rev. W. F. Bryan, the upper structure of the First Methodist Church was finished.
Front view of the Neoclassical-style church we worship in today.
View from Colorado Street.
The new sanctuary utilized the benches and organ pipes from the 10th Street Church.
In 1952, the current education building was built, with Marvin S. Vance as pastor.
In 1968, under Rev. R. S. Tate Jr., work began on remodeling the sanctuary and education center. Also same year, the Methodist Church united with Evangelical United Brethren to become First United Methodist Church.
Under Rev. J. D. Heacock, in September 1977, First Church purchased the parking lot north of the education building.
In 1978, Rev. Bruno Schmidt worked with the Austin Historical Society to place a historic marker at the church’s second location, corner of 4th and Congress (Frost Bank).
Another historic marker was placed at 10th and Brazos (Thomas Jefferson Rusk State Building).
In 1985, the Oetting building (furniture store) on the corner of Lavaca and 13th Streets was purchased and remodeled to accommodate a larger congregation.
Also in the early 1990s, during Pastor John Gilbert's term, the Chapel was renovated with funds from Bill and Mary Murchison, the Chapel’s namesake.
Before . . .
. . . and after.
During the term of Rev. John McMullen (1994-2010), the Oetting Building was partially torn down and rebuilt into the Schmidt-Jones Family Life Center.
The Schmidt-Jones Family Life Center building was dedicated on April 19, 1998.
Lon and Shirley Brooks gave the church two stained glass windows that had hung in the old 10th Street Methodist Church. This window hangs at the entrance of the church office.
And this one is placed in the door of the Bruno Schmidt History Center just off the Narthex.
Under the leadership of wife and husband team, Rev. John Wright and Rev. Barbara Ruth, the church remodeled Wesley Hall, where church services were held from 1923-28. Although First Church has been blessed with six female associate pastors, Barbara is the first female senior pastor.
The second story balcony rail was uncovered during renovations of Wesley Hall, which had been the original sanctuary.
Currently, a historic marker resides on the southwest corner of the Sanctuary building.