Methodist Episcopal Church
OLD CHURCH MUSEUM – built-in 1848, this beautifully restored building was formerly the Methodist Episcopal Church South; slavery issue split the church into Methodist Episcopal Church North and South. When built this church had a separate slave gallery which was removed during a renovation in the 1970’s.
The non-denominational museum contains religious artifacts. Rondel’s, originally from St. Patrick’s Church in Maysville, depicts four gospels: Matthew (Man/Wisdom), Mark (Lion/Nobility), Luke (Ox /Strength), and John (Eagle/Swiftness).
This brick structure is one of two remaining step-gabled buildings in Washington. Designed with two front entrances, the simple “meetinghouse” achieves visual impact through its step-gabled facade. The building has been associated with several prominent men of Southern Methodism.
History of the Congregation
This Washington, Ky., church, was the second Methodist church established in Kentucky and has been a constant religious presence in Mason Co. since its organization in 1786. Thomas and Sarah Stevenson, settlers from Maryland, sponsored the Methodist church at Washington. Lewis Collin’s History of Kentucky notes that the Stevensons were on the second flatboat down the Ohio River, landing at Limestone Landing in present-day Mason Co. the earlier settlers of the area had come by canoe. While living at nearby Kenton’s Station in 1786, the Stevensons entertained Rev. Benjamin Ogden, a Methodist preacher. In that same year they built a cabin near Washington, Ky., Ogden returned with his church elder, James Haw, and the church now named the Washington United Methodist Church was established. From this beginning until 1818, circuit-riding preachers ministered to local Methodists in the courthouse, in homes, and even in the local jail. The first log church, built in 1818, was replaced in 1826 by a stone church located in town on the corner of Main and York Sts. The Methodist Episcopal Church, as this church was known at the time, prospered until the issue of slavery split the Methodists nationally in 1845. The Washington Church reorganized as the Washington Methodist Episcopal Church South, and a new church building was built in 1848. That building served the congregation for more than a century. It was sold in 1969 and now houses an interdenominational church museum that is open to the public.
By 1939 the local church had shortened its name to the Washington Methodist Church. Several pastors of note served the church around the
turn of the century. Rev. Urban Valentine William Darlington served from 1896 to 1900 and later became bishop of the Kentucky Methodist Conference. Rev. J.J. Dickey was pastor at the Washington Methodist Church in 1902, 20 years after he had gone to Jackson, Ky., while a Presbyterian and organized Jackson Academy (later Lees College, and now part of the Hazard Community and Technical College) there. In 1899 a parsonage was pur
chased in Washington on Main St., but a new parsonage was built behind the church in 1955. During the pastorate of R. C. Mynear, in 1966, a decision
was made to build a new church building. Land was purchased from an estate known as Cedar Hill, and the new church was dedicated on October 19, 1969, with Bishop Roy Short and the church’s new pastor, Jackson Brewer, on hand. The year before, several groups had united nationally to form the United Methodist Church, so the church in Washington became the Washington United Methodist Church. The church building sustained heavy
damage in January 1975 as a result of arson, but the damage was repaired and the church reopened that August.
“Arson Destroys Church,” KP, January 22, 1975, 1K.
Collection of the Kentucky Gateway Museum Center,
Collins, Richard H. History of Kentucky. Vol. 1.
Covington, Ky: Collins, 1882.
“To Rebuild Gutted Church,” KP, January 24, 1975,4K.
Above excerpted from page 938 of THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF NORTHERN KENTUCKY THE UNIVERSITY PRESS OF KENTUCKY ISBN 978-0-8131-2565-7