On Friday afternoon, the Gettysburg Daily visited the building that at one time was the home of the Methodist Episcopal Church of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. It is now a GAR Hall. The Methodist Church was organized in 1815. Gettysburg remained the headquarters of a large circuit from 1827 until 1876, when it became a “station.” During this period, Pastors came to be in charge of the Gettysburg Methodist Church from the “Old” Baltimore, Maryland Conference, the East Baltimore, Maryland Conference, and the Central Pennsylvania Conference. None of the “Preachers in Charge” stayed longer than three years and most stayed only two years. The “Junior Preachers” usually stayed one year, and never longer than two years during this period.
The Civil War era Methodist Episcopal Church at 55 East Middle Street. In the late nineteenth century, members of the Church were proud to note that “It is a remarkable fact that no one appointment within the bounds of our present Central Pennsylvania Conference raised up unto God and sent forth so many ministers of truth as the town of Gettysburg.” The Church history then listed the names of 24 individuals who became Pastors. This view was taken from the northeast facing southwest at approximately 4:45 PM on Friday, April 25, 2008.
In 1822, the first Church structure was erected, and still remains at 55 East Middle Street. The original part of the brick structure measures approximately 42 ½’ by 37 ½’ and cost between $1200 and $2000. “Within, it was finished with gallery, box seats, and upholstered pulpit furniture, and in all other appointments, in a manner tasteful and inviting.” There were two entrances, one for men and one for women. This view was taken from the north facing south at approximately 4:45 PM on Friday, April 25, 2008.
The west wall of the building. The part closest to the camera is a newer part of the building built after the Methodists sold the structure. Following the Battle of Gettysburg, the church was used as a “Guard House” by the Army of the Potomac. The Board of Trustees met on August 13, 1863 to discuss making repairs to the church and filing a damage claim with the United States Government. Their detailed accounting of damage to the Church and the Parsonage came to a grand total of $52 . Interestingly enough, on October 31, 1863, they received $80 from the United States Government, which they deposited at the Farmers and Mechanics Savings Institution of Adams County. This view was taken from the southwest facing northeast at approximately 4:45 PM on Friday, April 25, 2008.
The backyard of the building contains the Methodist Cemetery. This cemetery was “long devoted to burial purposes… although most of its occupants have been removed to the cemetery of the town (Evergreen Cemetery) there still remain many unmarked depositories…” Approximately 45 gravestones still exist in Gettysburg’s oldest cemetery. This view was taken from the south facing north at approximately 4:45 PM on Friday, April 25, 2008.
Another view showing the extension in the rear of the building. The extension, measuring approximately 20’ X 50’ built after the Methodists sold their church building, covers approximately 15 of the graves for whom stones are located elsewhere in the cemetery. It is estimated that another eight that lie underneath this extension are unmarked, or marked only with fieldstones elsewhere in the cemetery. While the language of the source is confusing, it could be assumed that there are 15 to 23 graves still located under the extension in the rear of the building. This view was taken from the southwest facing northeast at approximately 4:45 PM on Friday, April 25, 2008.
A monument located in the cemetery. This view was taken from the west facing east at approximately 4:45 PM on Friday, April 25, 2008.
The entrance along the east wall of the building. There were 484 people associated with the Gettysburg Methodist Church from 1860 to 1869. 278 of those individuals were also listed on the 1860 federal census. The average age of these individuals was 23 years. 253 of the individuals were female, and 231 were male. This view was taken from the north facing south at approximately 4:45 PM on Friday, April 25, 2008.
Plaque on the northwest side of the building. By the late 1860s the structure at 55 East Middle Street was considered inadequate for the congregation and a new structure, located at 34 East Middle Street, was dedicated on February 8, 1874. The structure at 55 East Middle Street became G.A.R. Post Number 9. The church structure at 34 East Middle Street was destroyed by fire on January 20, 1968. The Methodist Episcopal Church, then known as the First Methodist Episcopal merged with The Memorial Evangelical United Brethren Church in 1969. Their church is now known as the United Methodist Church, and is located at 30 West High Street in Gettysburg. This view was taken from the north facing south at approximately 4:45 PM on Friday, April 25, 2008.