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Downtown church undergoes repairs

Jan. 10, 2013 @ 11:47 PM

HUNTINGTON -- Workers have been busy this week patching the roof on Johnson Memorial United Methodist Church at 10th Street and 5th Avenue.

The work is routine maintenance, said the Rev. Joseph Hill, the church's associate pastor.

"Just maintaining the old fort," Hill said of the facility, which dates back to 1913.

He said there were some leaks and areas in need of repair that became evident last summer after lighting was improved in the sanctuary. The patchwork, he said, is part of the list of to-do's and repairs the church needs.

The church dates back to 1870, when a congregation of Methodists and Presbyterians worshipped at a chapel on 7th Avenue and 16th Street. The Presbyterians soon moved out, and the Methodist church grew and moved into a larger space over a store where Pullman Plaza Hotel now stands.

Four years later, a larger chapel was built just up the street at 4th Avenue and 10th Street, and its namesake, the Rev. J.W. Johnson was named pastor in 1889.

In 1892, a church called Johnson Memorial Methodist Episcopal Church was constructed, but the interior was destroyed by fire just four years later. For the next 17 years, the church met in various places, including the Cabell County Courthouse.

According to the church's historical account, Johnson Memorial grew rapidly between 1900 and 1915, blossoming from 296 to 1,450 members, making it the largest church in Huntington at that time.

The red brick frame of the present-day facility was built in 1913 at a cost of $100,000.

It burned in 1935, leaving just the outer structure standing. A local Jewish congregation invited the church members to worship in their synagogue on Sunday mornings while a new church was being reconstructed. The new, present-day facility was completed in 1937, and the church moved back into its home.

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