from the Church bulletin for Heritage Sunday, April 29, 1984:
THOMSON UNITED METHODIST CHURCH was designed by Fulton and Butler Architects of Uniontown, Pennsylvania, in June of 1913.
The building is approximately 136 feet long (north side) by 95 feet wide (west side). From basement to skylight the building stands 72 feet high. The measurement from sidewalk to skylight is 74 feet; from sidewalk to the top of the towers in 98 feet.
J.O.Y. CHAPEL on the first floor, inside the Ohio Street entrance is frequently used for Sunday worship services, especially in the bitterly cold months of January and February. Recently, through gifts and volunteer labor by members of Thomson Church, the J. O. Y. Chapel was weatherized with insulation and paneling, along the south and east walls. This completed work that began in the early 1960s. The large cross of the altar in J.O.Y. Chapel was made by Mr. Bert Sligar, a former member of Thomson Church. For many yeasr the Joy Fellowship class held their Sunday School classes here. The Chapel at one time served as the location of the Primary Department. J. O. Y. Chapel will seat 125 persons.
What we now know was the PASTOR'S STUDY was at one time the church library.
The present NURSERY/KINDERGARTEN area was once the billiard room; and at another time served as the location of the Ladies Glass. Arestroom is adjacent to the Nursery/Kindergarten classrooms.
A MEN'S RESTROOM is located on the first floor near the Ohio Street entrance.
FELLOWSHIP HALL (dining room) is approximately 72 feet long by 59 feet wide. From 1920 to 1930 the social hall was sued for basketball; the boys on the team being members of Thomson Church. From 1930 to 1950 it was used for recreation by Boy Scout Troop 10. In the 1930s Troop 10 Drum and Bugle Corps practiced here.
From 1915 to the late 1950's Thomson's Annual Thanksgiving Turkey Dinner was served here, and attended by people from all over the Wheeling area. In the 1950's, roller skating, sponsored by Mr. Bennie McAdam was held here. At one time the room contained gym equipment and a game room for men.
Boy Scout Troop 10 is curently using Fellowship Hall for weekly meetings; it is used for regular meetings of AA; it is sometimes the site of worship services.
FURNACE ROOMS are located behind the kitchen. in 1980 our new furnace was installed here at a cost of over $55,000. New heaters were installed around the second floor foyer at this time.
Thomson Church is fortunate to have an ELEVATOR from first to second floor, making it possible to avoid the twenty-five STEPS. Another sixteen steps go from the second floor to the balcony.
Interesting measurements in the SANCTUARY include:
Floor to top of dome -- 48 feet high
Floor to top of the four arches -- 27 feet high
The DOME is 16 feet in diameter in the upper portion; 24 feet in diameter in the lower
The Sanctuary is 68 feet wide by 61 feet deep, measured to the kneeling bench
The Sanctuary will seat 500 people and the balcony another 130
For special occasions partitions can be raised to increase the capacity of the Sanctuary to accomodate overflow crowds.
Each of the four arches contain 18 lamps. On the bottom of the dome there are 32 lamps; in the hidden dome there are 24; another 28 lamps are found in the choir loft and on the pillars. There is a total of 156 lamps (mostly 60 watt) LIGHTING the Sanctuary. Lamps are changed by going into the attic, where sections made as steps are over each arch. Extreme care must be taken not to step on the plaster between steps.
The STAINED GLASS WINDOW behind the choir loft measures 12 feet wide by 16 feet high. The window on South Broadway Street is 16 feet wide by 27 feet wide by 27 feet high. A third stained glass window is on the Ohio Street side.
Our beautiful ORGAN, made by Allen, was recently renovated at a cost of $1,579.68. The organ contains 53 pipe; the echo organ in the balcony has 23 pipes. A CHOIR ROOM is located outside the Sanctuary.
In 1977 the Sanctuary was painted at a cost of $10,422.00. During the weeks scaffolding filled the Sanctuary, worship services were held in JOY chapel.
The DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION measures 40 feet by 40 feet. About 90 men, women and children attend weekly Sunday School classes. The Christian Fellowship classroom is used for Sunday School, church meetings, and fellowship dinners. Next door, in the Ladies Parlor, the Adult Bible class meets each Sunday. This room is also used for meetings and special study groups. The office of the Sunday School Superintedent, additional classrooms and the ladies restroom complete the circle on the second floor. The third floor balcony contains classrooms for elementary grades and the Joy Fellowship Class. The rotunda of the educational department is complimented with another beautiful dome and stained glass.
(A brief history condensed from the complete history of Thomson Church by Mr. W. Frank Keefer.)
Thomson Church began as a Sunday School Somewhat more than 125 years ago, Sunday School classes were held in the homes of a few residents of Zane's Island.
Then on May 15, 1854, Daniel Zane gave to a group of trustees -- members of Fourth Street Church -- the lot of land on which our first church edifice was later erected, situated at 24 South Broadway Street.
Shortly after the land was given, a wooden building measuring fourteen by thirty feet, was erected there, and occasionally preaching services were held.
By the end of the Civil War, at the spring session of the West Virginia Annual Conference, in the year 1866, a minister -- James A. Kibbe -- was appointed to the infant Island Church, not yet called Thomson, and our church has not been without a minister since that time.
The name of the Island Church was changed to Thomson in honor of Bishop Edward Thomson of the Methodist Episcopal Church. The Bishop died in Wheeling on March 22, 1870. He had stopped at Wheeling on his way to his home in Evanston, Illinois, after presiding over the West Virginia Annual Conference that met at Charleston in March of that year. While in Wheeling he visited at the home of E. J. Stone, one of the founders of Thomson Church, and it was largely due to the efforts of Mr. Stone that the name of the Island Church was changed to Thomson Church.
Soon after the Bishop's death, Mr. Stone and the minister then serving the Island Church, Samuel W. Davis, undertook a campaign to raise funds to erect a suitable memorial edifice to Bishop Thomson. Their efforts resulted in the erection of the brick edifice standing at 24 South Broadway, now occupied by the Church of God. That building was the home of Thomson Church until 1915.
In 1912, after the Billy Sunday evangelistic campaign had added 264 members (an increase of 50%) to our church, a campaign was inaugurated, led by Wilbur E. Stone, son of E. J. Stone, to raise funds for the erection of our present church edifice. The campaign succeeded in raising about $125,000.00 -- quite a princely sum for those days, antedating the outbreak of of World War I with its ensuing inflation. Those funds were used to erect our present home. The corner stone was laid with appropriate ceremonies in September of 1913, but the building was not completed and ready for occupancy until the spring of 1915.
The new building was dedicated by a week of services beginning May 9th and ending May 16th, 1915, with Bishops Edwin Holt Hughes and William F. Anderson participating in the services. Several former ministers of the church also were present. It was a glorious week in the history of the church.
In 1866, when Mr. Kibbe, our first minister, was appointed to serve us, we had a membership of only seventy-six. When the brick building was erected, it had grown to about 130. Before the Billy Sunday campaign, it stood at 556, and after that -- and at the time of the campaign for funds to erect the present building was conducted -- about 750. During the pastorate of Dr. Craig, in the "Roaring Twenties" it reached, at one time, 1266.
So much for the past! What does the future hold for Thomson Church? Let us all hope and pray it will be glorious! But it can be so, only if we not only pray, but also work to make it a glorious future.
[The church is located on Wheeling Island at 115 S. Broadway]
Service provided by the staff of the Ohio County Public Library in partnership with and funded in part by the Wheeling National Heritage Area Corporation.