MCKENDREE UNITED METHODIST CHURCH HISTORICAL SITE
McKendree Church was started in 1787 by Rev. Benjamin Ogden. To put this in a historical perspective, it was the same year our forefathers were writing the Constitution. The first church buildings were close to the river, where most of Nashville was located. As Nashville grew, McKendree Church moved to several locations (including the current site of Hume-Fogg High School) before purchasing our present location in 1830.
The first building was constructed in 1833. It was named in honor of Bishop William McKendree (1757-1835), who preached and dedicated the church building on November 23, 1834. Silversmith Joseph T. Elliston, who served as the fourth mayor of Nashville from 1814 to 1817, was one of its co-founders. It was the largest Methodist church in the United States at the time. During the American Civil War of 1861-1865, it was converted into a hospital.
A little more history: Alexander Little Page Green (1806-1874) served as its pastor, followed by John Berry McFerrin (1807-1887). The funeral of James K. Polk (1795–1849), who served as the 11th President of the United States, was conducted by Rev. McFerrin in this church.
We’ve had 4 buildings on this site. The first one, completed in 1833, was heavily damaged during the Civil War. The congregation decided in 1876 to take it down and build a larger, more ornate church building. That second one was completed and dedicated in January 1879. Unfortunately, after the close of the evening service on Sunday, October 26 of the same year, the building caught fire and was completely destroyed.
The third church was completed in 1882. It lasted until July 4, 1905. Being a hot day, the windows were open, fireworks accidentally came through the windows and again the church was destroyed by fire.
Our present sanctuary was completed in 1910. The sanctuary was said to have the first “echo organ” in the South, and one of the finest.
The stained glass windows are original to 1910. They are scenes from the life of Christ by various European painters. The work was done by the Von Gerichten Art Glass Company of Columbus, Ohio and shipped here by railroad and installed as the church building was erected.
The back part of the church was added in 1932, to provide a fellowship hall, kitchen and more Sunday school rooms. Later more space was needed and the front portion of the church with a modern kitchen, larger fellowship hall, office space and more classrooms, was added in 1966.
In October 1988, the lot on the corner of Sixth Avenue and Commerce Street was purchased to build our Christian Life Center. This building houses our Day Care Center, a recreation center and extra office space. It was completed in 1990.