Asbury United Methodist Church
Friday, September 18, 2020
Searching Inward Serving Outward Through Christ

3-Building Construction/Renovation

During the time that the Asbury congregation was meeting at the First Baptist Church, on January 5, 1887, a building site at the southwest corner of West Lincoln Avenue and North Franklin Street was purchased for $4500 from Joseph G. Grove, a member of the church.  The congregation decided to build a temporary frame structure for use while the permanent facilities were being constructed.  The temporary building was quickly completed in November 1887 within 30 days of ground breaking and at a cost of $1,400. The Asbury Journal noted that the "temporary structure seats comfortably 300 people with backs, and 100 without.''  

In June 1887 a committee was appointed to consult with an architect in Columbus and to present plans for a permanent building at a cost not to exceed $12,000.  The estimate rose to $16,000 and it seemed as if the congregation would need to be satisfied with brick instead of stone.  Plans had to be changed many times before the congregation could raise the required $16,790 for a stone building.  The final cost of the building and furnishings was $37,000. 
The architect selected was J .W. Yost of Columbus.  A local contractor, and said to be a member of the congregation at that time, C. Wellington Long, was hired to construct the building, and do all the work except the carving and other special details in the sanctuary.  On July 13, 1888, the cornerstone was laid, with Rev.  Dr. H. A. Butts, President of Drew Theological Seminary (New Jersey) delivering the sermon and the Rev. Dr. Lorenzo Dow McCabe (OWU professor) presented the cornerstone.  Two years later the building was completed.  The dedication service was held on November 16, 1890, with the Rev. Dr. Charles N. Simms, Chancellor of Syracuse University, giving the sermon. The Delaware Daily Gazette noted that the church is "in every respect… a great addition to our city" and that it is "as handsome as any similar edifice in the state."
The building was constructed of blue limestone from the blue limestone quarries within the city limits.  The most distinctive feature of the building is the large stained glass window, facing the east.   The window was the gift of two sisters, Mrs. V. T. Hills and Mrs. Anna Clason, who lived on two corners of the intersection of W. Lincoln Avenue and  N. Franklin Street (where the Sunny Vee Nursing Home and OWU's Chi Phi fraternity house are now located). Legend states the gift was provided on condition that the church not place bells in the bell tower. A description of the window in the Delaware Daily Gazette noted that, "The window when completed will cost nearly $1500, and for beauty and taste in its construction cannot be surpassed in the world… In the selection of design for this window the trustees have spared neither time nor expense…  Designs were submitted… and the contract was finally let to McCully & Miles (of Chicago)…  Four kinds of glass are used, viz: opalescent, ondagant, cathedral and venetian."  The 120 pieces of stone work for the window were so skillfully cut by local stonesman, C. F. Miller, that when they were put into place "all but three fitted to their places to an exactness of a hairs breath….."  A 1910 pamphlet from the Tiffany Studios reported that Asbury Church housed "ornamental windows", but gave no indication of exactly which windows were the Tiffany windows. 

The Gazette article continued, "The pulpit...deserves something more than a mere passing notice.  It is made out of solid cherry and was built by A. C. Shahan… and was carved by Mrs. Prof. [Richard] Parsons of this city, who bore the entire expense…., and presented to the church this beautiful, chaste, and unique piece of pulpit furniture.."  That pulpit remains in the Asbury building, but not in the sanctuary. 
The "Annex" section of the building, west of the sanctuary, included the "lecture room" (now known as the Great Room) and classrooms below and in the balcony, all of which composed the Sunday School Department. 
Asbury's first major renovation was the addition of an education building in 1953 on the west side of the original building at a cost of about $85,000. Of historical significance was that Dr. Rollin Walker, a charter member in 1886, turned the first spade of soil at the ground breaking ceremonies. 
The old Parish House (adjacent on the south and connected to the Annex) started as the parsonage, then (1915) became a portion of the Sunday School Department and kitchen, and was partially removed in 1956.  The remaining section became known as the "Scout Room".  The Sunday School rooms beneath the balcony were eventually converted into a Memorial Chapel with the incorporation of the original pulpit and baptismal font. 
The "Walker House" (named in honor or Dr. Rollin Walker) at 207 N. Franklin St., immediately south of the old Parish House, was purchased in 1955-56.  In 1963, the Thomas property at 201 N. Franklin St. was purchased and renamed the "Swisher House".  In later years (1972 for the Walker house, and late 1980's or early 1990's for the Swisher House) both of these houses were removed and parking lots were constructed. 
The sanctuary has been remodeled several times, with the first remodeling in the early 1960's.  The second remodeling of the sanctuary occurred in the early 1990's when the choir section was changed from a two-section choir (seating on two sides of the altar) to the current location in the southeast corner of the sanctuary and carpets were removed from the sanctuary for better sound quality.  The traditional ("Latin") Cross was relocated to the Education Building entrance and was replaced with the Jerusalem Cross.  
In the late 1980's and early 1990's, a two-phase remodeling of the Annex began.  The attached "Scout Room" was removed and a new entrance was provided from the parking lot at the southeast corner of the Annex.   The Annex area acquired an expanded pastor's office, a new/relocated "church office" and conference room; the latter two converted from the Memorial Chapel.  Phase two included converting the former church office, located northwest of the Great Room, into a handicap accessible restroom and the Library.  Also, the balcony rooms were enclosed with glass panels and a wood wainscot to provide a sound barrier between the Great Room and the classrooms/office space, without losing the light source and the view of the stained glass windows.  In 1995, a "Raise the Roof" campaign replaced the original slate roof with a new slate roof.

The $1.8 million 2004-2005 building construction included a major addition on the south side of the Great Room.  The addition included a new south entrance to the building, conference room and library, pastor's office and church office, and a large lower level activity area.  The stained glass windows from the south side of the Great Room became the windows on the south wall of the addition.  The construction also included an elevator for handicap accessibility to all levels of the sanctuary and education building, and new accessible restrooms replaced the former pastor's office and the church office.  The former conference room became the choir room.    The renovations included an upgraded heating and air conditioning system for the classrooms in the education building, and a new roof for the education building as well as remodeling in the McCoy Rooms and Parlor.  A portion of the renovation includes a new pipe organ to be installed by 2007, and built by master craftsmen of the world-renowned Johannes Klais Orgelbau Company of Bonn, Germany.