Wesley UMC in Oklahoma City sits on the fringe of several historic districts, and is part of two urban development areas, The Asian District and Uptown 23rd. Sitting majestically at the corner of NW 25 and Classen it towers over the surrounding area. Mere blocks from Oklahoma City University it has shared in its 100+ years a relationship with the university with many faculty, students, and administration serving on its boards, staff, Sunday School teachers, choir members and attendees.
Various church published histories of this church established in 1910 always list three versions of the church: the first wooden structure, affectionately called the "Cow Shed", at NW 32 and Classen; the second, and larger, structure at NW 25th and Douglas (just off of Classen) in 1911. That structure redesigned and augmented the building materials of the first structure in order to make more room. Not as well documented was the third incarnation of the church, what was lovingly called the "Dutton Tabernacle" improved while Dr. Dean C. Dutton was pastor (1919-1923). Here, for perhaps the first time, is more accurate chronology of the phases of development for this Methodist Episcopal Church (north).
|First service here was Sunday, Dec. 25, 1910 with Bishop William Quayle preaching and Rev. Frank A. Colwell as pastor. Members were accepted that day and children baptized. Bishop Quayle also gave the first $100 to a building fund begun that day. The above building was built using a $300 mission grant from the M.E. North Oklahoma Conference in October 1910. The church formally organized on Nov. 10, 1910.|
|The "Sheep Shed" at NW 25 and Douglas, just off Classen Blvd.|
An addition buts out on the right side for some fifteen feet (ca. 1911/15.). They moved in the spring of 1911 to this location due to an influx of members with the closing of Epworth University. The property was purchased for $600.00. Members recounted tales of the way the tarpaper would whip and rustle in the high Oklahoma winds and remain cold in winter and warm in the summer. In the summer they brought in blocks of ice and set up fans to blow over the congregants to keep them cool. Pastors in these years : Frank A. Colwell (1910-1911); H.C. Betts (1913); Thomas Pingrey (1913); E.R. Houck (1914-1915); J.W. Cater (1915-1916); Charles Clark Smith (1916-1918).
|"The Dutton Tabernacle" 1920; You can see the 'bones' of the other structures if you look closely. Aggressive growth, diverse program and strong membership participation saw the church grow to nearly 1,000. Dr. Dean C. Dutton (Ph.D.) was there from 1919-1922.|
|In 1923 the pastor was J.W. Waldron, J.A. Baldwin (1924) and in 1925 Dr. William Forney Hovis arrived. In 1924/26, F.A. Colwell, first pastor and now a contractor was responsible for tearing down the Dutton Tabernacle to make room for the new sanctuary; a building across NW 25 was used for classes and events. In 1928 the above sanctuary was completed and dedicated. Later, the house was used as a youth and education building, Hadduck Hall. It was torn down in the 1970's.|
---Appreciation to Wesley United Methodist Church for use of these photos from their archives collection