The First United Methodist Church of Ironton was built in 1893. It was originally home to the Spencer Methodist Church, which later consolidated with the Wesley Methodist Church in 1913. The church was designed in the Victorian Gothic style and features stained glass windows, a curved chancel rail (also called an altar rail), and balcony seats from the first Spencer Church, built in 1852. Since its erection, only one addition has been made to the church: the Education Building, finished in 1967.
In 1850, a year after the founding of Ironton, local
Methodists organized what would become the Spencer Methodist Church. During
1851, over two thousand dollars were raised to build a church on land donated
by the Ohio Iron and Coal Company. The main part of the church was dedicated in
the summer of 1852. It was likely named after the presiding church elder,
Robert O. Spencer. Reverend W. C. Hand was pastor, and the church saw
exponential growth. When the congregation had finally outgrown the church, a
new one was built on Fifth and Center Streets. A “Feast of Dedication” was held
there on May 7, 1893.
The Wesley Church was founded by a group of Welsh immigrants
who had come to Ironton to mine iron ore. The Ohio Iron and Coal Company also
gave land to this group in the winter of 1852. A chapel was completed there in
August 1853. John Ellis from Cincinnati served as pastor, preaching in Welsh,
until 1859. At that point, many of the Welsh immigrants spoke English, so an
English-speaking reverend, J. P. Lacroix, took over. As the “Wesley Chapel”
grew into the “Wesley Church,” a bigger home was needed. So, the new Wesley
Church was built on Fifth and Etna streets in the late 1860s. It was in use
from 1872 until February 1913, when a fire destroyed it.
June of that same year, the two Methodist churches joined together to become
the First United Methodist Church. Wesley Church added its 380 members to the 493
of Spencer Church. To make the transition easier, all former trustees of the
churches resigned and a new election was held to choose members of the board.
Wesley’s Rev. J. W. Blair and Spencer’s Rev. B. D. Evans both preached at the
church until October, when Evans was chosen to take over. The congregation became
one of the biggest in the Ironton area.