A brief history
The Eldora United Methodist Church is the oldest continuous church in Eldora. In 1849, Greenberg Haggen first settled on the Iowa River in Union Township . Nine more families came to the same location in 1850. Eldora was surveyed, platted, and designated the county seat during the summer of 1853. The first sale of town lots was in July of 1853.
In the fall of 1854, the Eldora United Methodist Church had its beginning in Samuel Edgington's cabin on 15th Avenue , now the empty lot west of Napa Auto Parts. There were seventeen members in the first congregation. Services in those pioneer days were held in the log cabins of the members.
The first schoolhouse in Eldora was built on the very site where our present church sits. When the second schoolhouse was built, the Methodists purchased the first one. The year of this transaction is unknown. In 1861 the pastor's salary was $220.45. At that time there were few hymnals, and Miss Hattie Ball accompanied hymns on a little organ she carried to and from church under her arm. In 1869 a new church building was dedicated at a cost of $5,000. Another parsonage was erected in 1871 for $800. The church was on the present site and the parsonage was south of the church. The first brick church building was dedicated in 1891 at a cost of $16,000.
The Ladies' Aid society was organized in 1854, meeting every Wednesday to knit and mend for the needy. During the Civil War the ladies provided clothing for soldiers, and after the war they helped families of soldiers who had been killed. The Ladies' Aid were active in every church project, contributing to the construction of every church through 1929.
The Ladies' Aid gave $5,000 toward the purchase of the Moller Pipe Organ. In the spring of 1927 Mrs. Koeneman, Mrs. Gethman, and Mrs. Leonard had spent two days in Chicago listening to organs of various sizes. After much thought and discussion, the decision was made to purchase the Moller organ you hear today. The organ was built by M.P. Moller of Hagerstown , Maryland , the largest organ manufacturer in the world at that time. The instrument was designed for the newly remodeled building after careful study of conditions and acoustics. The two manual consoles are connected to the organ proper by electric wires, and the touch of the keys is as light as that of a piano with instantaneous response. The organ is housed in a special chamber built behind the grillwork at the side of the chancel. A heating unit was installed to insure an even temperature throughout the year. The organ has approximately 1000 pipes and a set of twenty bar chimes.
In the 1929 remodeling, the pulpit was moved from the east to where it now stands. The three story east wing was added, and the parsonage was moved from south of the church to east of the church. The cost of this remodeling was approximately $50,000. In the early 1940's the parsonage was sold and moved to 906 11th Street , at which time the house at 1605 12th Street was purchased. The present parsonage was purchased in 1957.
At this time I would like to add a personal note. I was a member of the building committee for the south addition (the Wesley room, church office, and Sunday School rooms). We needed $90,000 for the project. A Methodist minister who was a successful fund raiser helped us organize our fund drive. One Sunday afternoon nearly every member of the congregation was personally contacted, and $111,000 was pledged. With the surplus of funds, we were able to furnish the complete addition. The south addition was dedicated in 1965. In 1980 we purchased the two lots south of the church, and on March 4, 1991 , we purchased the lots east of the church, removing two old buildings.
This brings us to today. Our congregation has grown from seventeen members to about 521. I have believed for some time that the Good Lord has something very special for this congregation to accomplish in our community. With our contemporary worship service we are reaching out to the changing needs of our present society. The new addition to our church makes our building more people friendly, enabling us to reach more people to be a part of God's family. Our first 150 years have been a good beginning.
Jack Piper, April 29, 2001 ; (Revised 3/5/04