Myers Park United Methodist: Impact On The Past
Myers Park Methodist Episcopal Church, South, as it was originally named, was organized in 1925 and held its first service on October 25, 1925, in the chapel at Queens College, Burwell Hall. About one month later, the congregation bought the property at Queens and Providence roads for $18,000. The wooden store that occupied this site was converted into a temporary sanctuary seating 200 people. By Christmas, church services were being held here. Charter membership was closed in December 31, 1925, with 151 charter members.
Myers Park United Methodist Church: Building On Our Beliefs
For more than 75 years, Myers Park United Methodist Church has stood as a spiritual and architectural landmark in Charlotte. Founded in 1925 by a group of 10 local businessmen, the church held services for its original 100 members in the chapel of nearby Queens College (now Queens University). In March 1929, construction began on a new English Gothic-Style Sanctuary on property bought at the corner of Queens and Providence roads. Designed by Louis Asbury Sr., the building featured a distinctive tower, pointed arched windows, exquisite stonework and sat about 700 people. The cornerstone was laid on June 9, 1929. The stone came from the same Hillsborough quarry as the source of stone used to build Duke Chapel. One year later (March 30, 1930), the first church service was held in the remarkable new sanctuary.
In the 1930s, membership grew to more than 500. The J. Luther Snyder Educational Building replaced the wooden huts that had housed Sunday School and youth activities.
The 1940s saw more additions: Beautiful stained glass windows in the Sanctuary, a new church library and Through The Week School (now The Children's Circle) for pre-school children.
In 1947, a carillon was installed in the bell tower. By 1950, more than 1,300 people belonged to the church and more significant changes were made to the sanctuary. The most obvious change was the divided chancel, which replaced the platform pulpit and elevated choir loft behind.
At the same time, a room was provided behind the divided chancel for a new pipe organ. The Aeolian-Skinner pipe organ was bought for $50,000 and dedicated on May 18, 1950. (The estimated value after the 1997 renovation was $850,000 to $900,000.) In 1995, the carillon was renovated and supplemented with 13 new bells.
Highlights of the 1950s included expanded missions, especially overseas, and the addition of Owenby Hall. Myers Park United Methodist continued to grow its membership, facilities and outreach ministries in the 1960s. The church's 2,600 members contributed to building a church in India, as well as to outreach projects in Appalachia and around Charlotte. The new Youth Building and major renovations for office space and the library were completed.
In 1955, the congregational raised $5 million in response to capital needs at the church and needs of other organizations. The campaign benefited organizations such as Africa University, Bethlehem Center and Habitat for Humanity.
The church's 50th Anniversary in 1975 was marked by substantial budget increases for local outreach ministries in the areas of poverty and hunger ministries. Membership also increased to nearly 3,000. In the 1980s, the Stephen Ministry began and missions remained a priority. During this time, a successful capital campaign raised $1.6 million for major church renovations.
The church's organ was refurbished in 1997, enhancing our music ministry.
By the end of the decade, the church's 4,000 members and new programs, such as the more informal, contemporary Church In The Round service, had put a strain on existing facilities. In response, church leaders created and began implementing a strategic plan in 1994. In the subsequent Building on Our Beliefs capital campaign, the congregation raised $16.3 million, with 10 percent of contributions committed to outreach projects.
Gathering Places and Sacred Spaces
In 1994, Myers Park UMC church leaders began considering a solution to a fortunate, but troubling dilemma: our church had simply grown beyond its available facilities for worship, education and service. After considerable study and consensus seeking among the congregations, the church proposed a Building On Our Beliefs capital campaign to fund a comprehensive renovation and expansion program.
In 2000, church members raised the $16.3 million needed to make these improvements and provide an increased commitment to outreach. Three years later, construction was completed on 66,800 square feet of new space and renovations that nearly doubled the existing church complex. This remarkable transformation of our church facilities lays the foundation for building current and future ministries to our congregation and community.
In early 2003, construction was completed on the new and renovated church facilities. Using the same stone from the original quarry that supplied construction for the Sanctuary, the additions enhanced not only the church's physical presence, but also its ministry, worship and outreach programs.
Our Community: The History of Myers Park
Check out http://www.cmhpf.org/educationneighhistmyerspark.htm for more detailed information and photos of the Myers Park community.
In 1869, J.S. "Jack" Myers, son of long-established Mecklenberg plantation owners, came into his inheritance and decided to build a country home on land that he owned south of Charlotte. He operated the acreage as a cotton farm for several years, mostly through the work of sharecroppers, whose cottages lined the edge of his property along Providence Road.
Myers' dream was to turn his land into Charlotte's finest suburb. He set his dream in motion by planting a multitude of flowers, shrubs and trees in his vast front yard, which came to be known as "Myers Park." Though the original home site and tenant dwellings are long gone, today the area that was one the front yard is J.S. Myers Park – the centerpiece of one of Charlotte's most prestigious neighborhoods.
By the 1920s, the main thoroughfare of Myers Park – Queens Road – had been designed in a wide loop so that streetcars carrying prominent citizens to their offices in Charlotte could turn around and head back to town. The result was several "Queens and Queens" intersections, much to the bewilderment of modern-day newcomers to Charlotte who try to navigate the loop.
Today, Myers Park is an in-town neighborhood, only a few minutes’ drive from the center city. While it offers convenience and variety with its mix of distinctive retail establishments, office buildings, restaurants, and some of Charlotte's most notable landmarks, such as Queens University, Myers Park Country Club, Theatre Charlotte, and Wing Haven (a garden and bird sanctuary created in 1927), it still is considered one of Charlotte's finest residential addresses.
Church member Joyce Gossett heads the Archives Committee. Please contact her if you need any archive photographs or information regarding the history of the church.