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Grace Methodist Episcopal Church, Oelwein, IA

May 31, 2014


By the time this Iowa church was photographed, its denomination had undergone a name change. At the time of construction circa 1907, this was Grace Methodist Episcopal—”Methodist” as heir to the tradition of Charles Wesley and “Episcopal” as a church governed by bishops, but that adjective disappeared during the denominational merger with Evangelical United Brethren. So today’s UMC or United Methodist Church recognizes the converging roots of its family tree.

With a not-quite-axis of symmetry at the corner tower—there are a pair of buttresses at the entry on the left—it’s a good guess that the pulpit and communion table (if there is one) are at the tower corner or the opposite interior angle and that the seating is arrayed in a quarter circular arrangement. I’m betting the former, because a google.maps view shows a very typical curved Sunday School arrangement at that same interior angle. Besides being an almost ideal representation of the Akron-Auditorium, this particular configuration causes problems for my typology—but that’s a different story for another day.

It never ceases to amuse that it was easier to find the name of the masons who contracted for construction than it has been to identify the still unknown architect. The building still stands well maintained at the northeast corner of Frederick Avenue and NE First Street.

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