In any community, the churches and cathedrals are cornerstones of the local citizens and guideposts to the development, history and daily life of the town. The city of Bryan, Ohio is no exception. From its earliest days, the churches have played an important role in the society of the county.
The Methodist Episcopal Church located on West Butler Street in Bryan is a true landmark that is known and revered by many of the citizens. This beautiful church with its hint of buttresses and large stained glass windows has occupied this corner just one block west of the courthouse since 1895.
At the dedication on February 23, 1896, one would approach the red brick gothic revival edifice from the north and enter the main door at the base of the seventy-five foot tall bell tower. The editor of the Bryan Press described the church:
“The building it self deserves a better description than we are able to give it, as it embodies the latest and best ideas in church construction and convenience. It is of red brick laid in mortar of the same color. Its plan is almost pure Gothic, and it was designed by architect R.C. Loos, of Philadelphia.
The main tower is located on the northeast corner of the building and is seventy-five feet high, brick trimmed in stone. The auditorium is 51x 58 feet with the pulpit in the south and with an arched ceiling thirty to thirty-five high, and a seating capacity of three hundred and twenty -nine. The floor is inclined and the chairs are set in the lines of arcs with the pulpit as a center. Fine stained glass windows furnish light for the day time while artificial light will be supplies from large chandeliers shedding the soft rays of incandescent lamps over the whole room. The decoration of the walls was done by the Ufer Brothers, the gentlemen who decorated the court house and their work shows very beautifully, in the new church.
In the rear of the auditorium is a lecture room 30x48 feet seated with one hundred and forty-eight opera chairs; this is divided from the auditorium by sliding doors with chipped glass. Just above this is a gallery seated with eighty-four chairs, Making in all a seating capacity of over five hundred and sixty-one with plenty of floor space for another hundred without crowding.
A recess 16 x19 feet for the organ and choir has been built just back of the pulpit and to the right of this is the pastor’s study 10 x 15 feet, while a room of the choir of the same size is just opposite. Two 12 x19 class rooms are over the lecture room, both fronts being provided with sliding sash of chipped glass. Nearly seven hundred and fifty yards of carpet was required to cove the floors and it was selected with reference to the color of the decorations and wood work, so that the effect is harmonious and pleasing.”-Bryan Press November
Truly an impressive structure at the time of its dedication, it is hardly less so now although it is in need of tender and loving restoration and preservation. The structural integrity of the building is such that it can easily serve the community in new and creative ways for anther 115 years.
There is so much more of the story to tell. Watch this space and watch for the forthcoming book.