The First United Methodist Church is a must see for lovers of fine art and historic architecture. You can visit this hundred year old building at its downtown location on Main Street and Clay. Once you step inside, you’ll get to witness for yourself what exactly makes this building one of the main tourist attractions in the area. A glorious 7,000 pipe Aeolian-Skinner organ and a breathtaking Sanctuary complete with a massive crystal chandelier are part of what makes the church Houston’s prized gem. In addition, the church houses several ornate stained glass windows that are remarkable not only for their size but also their intricacy and elegance.
The history of the First United Methodist Church in downtown Houston dates back to the early 1880’s. The congregation was originally organized in the Senate Chamber of the Capitol Building of the Republic by Reverend Jesse Hord in 1839. In 1844, a new building was erected for the congregation. This would be known as the first brick church in Texas.
The church faced a series of challenges in subsequent years. In 1864, a brick wall collapses due to an intense storm, forcing the congregation to relocate temporarily until repairs can be made. Then, less than three years later, Yellow Fever sweeps through Houston and kills over 1,000 residents, including the church’s pastor Reverend William Rees. In 1900, an epic hurricane causes massive devastation in Galveston, causing the church to minister in dramatic ways to the survivors.
photo credit: Flickr user
Later, in 1910, the congregation moved to what is now its present location on Main Street and Clay. Membership for the church continued to grow. 55 years later, the Aeolian-Skinner organ was installed. Fifteen years later, the church embarked on an ambitious renovation by enclosing the facade on the south side to form a large lobby. The stained glass windows were created, designed by one of the church’s very own members, Edward L. Reichert. The windows depict ministries of the church and well-known Christian symbols.
As part of a series of renovations, the stained glass windows were recently restored in 2014. You can check them out by attending Sunday Service in the Sanctuary Room or just stopping by for a self-guided tour. Whatever you decide, we highly recommend visiting the First United Methodist Church and checking out the stained glass windows the next time you’re looking for something fun and interesting to do in downtown Houston.