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Historic Churches

United Methodist Church

1909

United Methodist Church – 1879
210 North Almont Avenue

In 1870, thanks to the generosity of Charles Palmer (Imlay City’s founder), joint union services were held in the Bancroft Hotel ballroom by the Congregationalists, the Methodists and the Baptist.

The Imlay City Methodist Episcopal Church had its beginnings when Rev. Laing of Attica held services in the village some time before 1879.  These church services were held in the schoolhouse that was located on Bancroft Street but were later discontinued.

Then, in October of 1879 the Methodist Episcopal Church of Imlay City was organized with Rev. Francis Berry as pastor.  A small chapel was built in 1879-80.  A lumberman named Henry Woodry is reported as the builder and he also served as one of the first trustees.

The church is in the Gothic Revival style and is commonly referred to as Carpenter Gothic.  One of the common features of this style is the buttressing.  The church features beautiful stained glass windows.  A large circular Rose (or Catherine) window is found on the western wall of the building, which is the common placement for such windows.  Its purpose is to create a “heavenly light” that symbolizes the presence of God in the church.

In 1882-83 the present brick church was erected at a cost of $2,500.  There were 57 members at that time.  The cornerstone was laid April 23, 1882 by Rev. Thomas G. Patten.  During its first 30 years there were 16 different ministers.

The building has served as a house of worship for many families through the years.  An addition was made to the church in 1931 with materials and labor donated by church members and the efforts of the Ladies’ Aid.

In 1939 the Methodist Protestant and Methodist Episcopal united and the church became the Imlay City Methodist Church.  By the late 1940s Sunday school classes were being held in every nook and cranny, and four new classrooms were added.

The exterior of the church was covered with the present Perma-Stone in October of 1957 at a cost of $8,400.  By the year 1964 the big cast iron bell in the tower was badly cracked and considered dangerous.  It was removed in pieces.

In 1968, the Evangelical United Brethren and Methodist churches merged, and the name changed to the Imlay City United Methodist Church.

The church has weathered the many years virtually unscathed except when lightning struck the bell tower in 1973 with an estimated damage of $2,400.  New pews and carpeting were installed in the sanctuary in 1975.

In 1982 the sanctuary was “turned around” and a two-level addition north from the existing building constructed.  The project expanded the sanctuary seating by 55-60 and created a large foyer.  The new addition contained a nursery, crib room, fellowship hall, seven Sunday school rooms, an access ramp, offices for pastor and secretary, four restrooms, and additional storage space.

First Baptist Church

First Baptist Church – 1876
404 North Almont Avenue

As early as 1858 a religious society of the Baptist was organized in the Deneen schoolhouse in Imlay Township.  In 1870, thanks to the generosity of Charles Palmer, joint union serves were held in the Bancroft Hotel ballroom by the Congregationalists, the Methodists and the Baptist.

On November 8, 1871 a group of people assembled at the schoolhouse to organize a Baptist Church in the village of Imlay City.  In February of 1872, they purchased a lot at the corner of Sixth Street and Almont Avenue.  They commenced the erection of their church that spring of 1872.  The building was dedicated August 6th.  This was the first building in Imlay City for religious purposes.  Rev. J. E. Bitting was called to be the first pastor.  A week after the dedication it was decided to borrow $400 to build a parsonage at 465 North Almont Avenue.

The church building was constructed for a cost of $2,692.12 and is two stories high with ample basement. The audience room is tastily finished in pine and black walnut, and seats about 300 persons.

By the year 1960, the lack of space and the need for alterations became acute.  In the fall of 1960, Mr. and Mrs. Kenneth Anderson offered to give their home on south Almont Avenue to be used as a parsonage, providing a new church be built.  The offer was accepted and in June 1963  property on Weston Street was purchased and construction of a new church started on May 10, 1964.  The first service was held in the new church September 20, 1964 and the dedication was held October 18, 1964.  In February of 1964, the Baptist voted to sell its church building and fellowship house on Almont Avenue to the Nazarene Church.

At a membership meeting held on October 21, 2009, it was decided  to bring to conclusion the ministries of 137 years of the First Baptist Church in Imlay City with dignity and respect due to dwindling membership.  The church closed December 13, 2009.

First Congregational Church United Church of Christ

1882

First Congregational Church United Church of Christ – 1876
275 Bancroft Street

The First Congregational United Church of Christ building is of the Gothic Revival Style.  The pointed arch transom panel above the entry door and the hooded windows are common in the Gothic Revival style that defines the Congregational Church.  The front façade has a center window grouping of three windows that were common for churches designed in this style.  Another distinguishing characteristic of this style was the use of vertical board and batten wood cladding that was used to express the versatility of the structure.

The Congregational Society was the second to form in the village of Imlay City, which took place early in the fall of 1870.  The Sunday school was organized October 16, 1870, with William Townsend, superintendent.  In 1872 the school divided, a portion forming the Baptist Sunday school.  By invitation of the society, Congregational Council was called which met September 3, 1872 and organized the First Congregational Church of Imlay City.  The Society first held services in a small schoolroom.  Afterward by the kindness and generosity of Charles Palmer, services were held in the ballroom of the Bancroft House (since burned).  After the erection of the public union school building and through the kindness of the school board, services were held there until the completion and dedication of the present spacious church edifice on February 3, 1876.  The church was built in 1877 at an original cost of $885 and the parsonage was built a year later – at a cost of about $1,319.07

The church’s pipe organ was dedicated in 1905.  Florence Marshall was the first organist.  It was built to the exact specifications of the Detroit Fort Street Congregational church organ at a cost of $1200.  The tracker action old and faithful (more or less) instrument was retired in 1972.  The church also still has the original contract for its construction by the Votteler-Hettche Organ Company of Cleveland, Ohio.  Later a computerized organ was purchased.

Below is a portion of a poem written by Mrs. Nelson Haskin in 1972 and it reads:

We’ve got an organ in the church—very finest in the land;

It’s got a thousand pipes or more, its melody is grand!

And when we sit in polished pews and hear the master play,

It carries us to realms of bliss, unnumbered miles away.

It cost a cool twelve hundred and it’s stood the hardest test;

We’ll pay a thousand on it, and the Ladies’ Aid the rest.

In 1957 the church voted to join the United Church of Christ, the newly formed denomination that merged the Evangelical and Reformed Church and the Congregational Christian churches.

The parsonage was erected in 1881 and the parish hall addition in 1955.  The exact date of the bell tower hasn’t been documented but the bell is inscribed with the date 1893, manufactured by the McShane Bell Company.

 

Sacred Heart Catholic Church

First Catholic Church

Sacred Heart – 1972
700 Maple Vista

(1850-1867 – Early History)

The Sacred Heart Catholic Church of Imlay City was organized by a group of Irish settlers who came to this area in the early 1850s.  The first mass was said by Father Vallandingham of Mt. Clemens at the Martin Heenan home in 1852.  This Heenan home was located near the junction of south VanDyke and Hunters Creek Road.  The next priest to visit the area was Father Theophilus Buyse of Swan Creek, who said mass at Peter Hannan Sr.’s home on South Blacks Corners Road in 1854.   During this time plans were made by the thirty Catholic families to build a church and this was completed in 1867.

(1867-1894 – The First Church)

This first church was a small wooden structure, painted white and located on Blacks Corners Road at the site of the present Mt. Calvary Cemetery.  Land was donated for the church from the farm of George Quirk, Sr. and Mr. Morris of Pontiac donated the timber off the Hulsart farm for its construction.  Men of the parish did the actual construction.  A board fence enclosed the churchyard and hitching posts were provided for the horses and oxen with their lumber wagons and carriages.  Priest came once a month from Lapeer.

The interior of the little church was mostly white as the walls were white plaster, and the pews were natural unfinished wood.  There was no sacristy – the sanctuary was the entire width of the building.  The confessional was enclosed in red curtains and was back of the communion rail on the left side of the church.  A few chairs inside the railing were for the alter boys, Tom Hughes, Jim McKinney, Joe O’Neil, Bob MacGillis, and Ted Hannan.  An L-shaped round oak stove provided the heat.  The one alter was painted white and often was decorated with flowers of the field and woods brought by children.  On special occasions an organ was borrowed from the Patrick O’Neil family and an organist came from Lapeer.  Later an organ was purchased.  At this time the cemetery was in back of the church.  In 1893 Bishop Foley named Father Francis C. Kelley pastor in Lapeer and plans were made to erect a new church in the village of Imlay City.

Sacred Heart Catholic Church – Main Street

(1894 -1970 – Sacred Heart Church)

In 1894, at a cost of $7,500, a new church was erected on Main Street in the village of Imlay City.  It was of brick and fieldstone, with a spire and stained glass windows.  The “miter stone” on the front surface of the church was found in the field stone brought in by farmers. In 1927 Father Ording was serving Imlay City, when a rectory was built adjacent to the Main Street church.  He was the first pastor to live in it.  Until 1927 the pastors came from Lapeer to serve this parish.

In 1924 the church was partially destroyed by fire and re-built.

(1970-Present – )

On December 2, 1972, the present church was built and the Main Street structure demolished.  The new church was attached to the existing parish hall.  This new sanctuary could accommodate 500 people.  Nearby is the house that was originally the home of the Victory Noll Sisters who taught religion in several neighboring parishes as well as Imlay City.  A new rectory was constructed in 1974.  The parish is proud of its part in donating land for the construction of the beautiful Sanctuary at Maple Vista, a residence for ambulatory seniors of any denomination.

 

Christian Reformed Church

1941

Christian Reformed Church – 1965
395 North Cedar Street

In the spring of 1923, three Holland families from Hudsonville moved to Imlay City to work in the celery fields of the Belle River Celery Company.  In 1922 the first celery was grown here.  In 1924 another family was hired by the celery company, making four families with seventeen children.

At that time, Rev. J. R. Brink, Home Missionary of Classis Grand Rapids East, was asked to come to Imlay City, and if possible, start a mission station.  This was done, and on March 29, 1925, the first service was held in the town hall.

In 1927 a new development was started for gardening and in the spring of 1928, twelve more families moved to Imlay City from Hudsonville, Kalamazoo, Grant, Zeeland and Byron Center, making a total of sixteen families, twenty-six confessing members, sixty-six members by baptism, and ninety-two souls in all.  Services were then held in the Congregational Church.  On March 28, preparations were made to organize, which took place on June 11, 1928.  Membership papers were filed, and a nomination was made for elders and deacons.  The Elders chosen were:  Mr. H. J. Steigenga, Mr. John Stryker, and for Deacons Mr. H. Ettema, Mr. J. Bax.  Rev. Van Halsema installed the officers and wished the congregation Godspeed.

Services were then held in the Methodist Church as the Congregational Church was being remodeled.  Housing of the pastor became a problem as rents were increasing and no vacant houses were to be found.  The congregation then decided to buy the property on Main Street, which extended to Cedar Street (M-53), the site of the present church building.

By 1938, the congregation numbered thirty-seven families and was continuing to grow, and yet they had no church building of their own.  It was then decided to purchase an old church building four miles northeast of town.  Realizing this could be only a temporary solution for a growing congregation, meetings were held and plans made to erect a new building on the M-53 site.  Work was begun in the fall of 1940 and completed the following summer.  Dedication services were held August 13-14, 1941.

In 1947, a need was felt for a better parsonage.  Plans were made to erect a new parsonage on the lot adjacent to the church property.  Work was begun in 1947 and completed in the spring of 1948.

By the early 1960s it again became apparent that the congregation was still growing as the sanctuary was filled to over-flowing and Sunday school facilities became inadequate.  It was then decided at a congregational meeting on June 22, 1965 to build a new church.

On August 2, 1965 a groundbreaking ceremony was held.  The contract had been awarded to Case Construction Company of Flint and the cornerstone was laid during a brief ceremony the following Thanksgiving Day.  This second structure completed in 1966 is still being used today.  More classrooms were added in 1992.  Located near the main entrance is a structure that houses the original bell that was in the bell tower of the 1941 building and rang before each morning and evening service.

St. Paul’s Lutheran Church

1912 “German Church”

St. Paul’s Lutheran Church -1951
200 North Cedar Street

St. Paul’s Lutheran Church began as a mission congregation formed in the year 1889 in Goodland Township.  Reverend Guetzlaff, Sr., of Capac was the pastor.  At that time there was a difference of opinion as to the location of the church, resulting in building two churches.  St. Paul’s was built at the present site and Emmanuel at the corner of Brown City and Bowers roads.

The Goodland and Imlay churches were served by pastors from Capac.  Pastor Loeb organized the purchase of a new organ in 1893.  For the first 30 years, services were held in German.  There were 54 communicants as late as 1919.  Three people were confirmed in the first class in 1914.  Between 1920 and 1925 the Ladies Aid Society was formed.  A young people’s Bible Class and a Luther League were formed under pastors F. Engelhart and A. Guetzlaff, Jr.

After 1925, Pastor W. E. Sund united the two churches.  Some of the members of St. Paul’s were among the 40 baptized from Emmanuel.

On February 14, 1951 the church burned to the ground.  Plans for a new, larger and more beautiful house of worship were formed and a ground breaking service held.  On February 7, 1952 the present structure was dedicated with 243 confirmed members. Over the years a bell choir was created, a clown ministry developed and a scholarship fund established.

In 1957 the house near the church was purchased and is currently used as a day care center.  The congregation acquired property north of the church for future expansion.  In 1989, a outdoor pavilion was constructed and the houses north of the church removed.

In 2002 a beautiful new addition was completed which allowed for more programs for the community, a food pantry, and many more activities.  In 2006 Faith Gardens was opened as a preschool and daycare center.

Thursdays
10:00 AM-4:00 PM
May- October
Corner of Third & Main Streets

Tuesdays
7:00 PM
June-August
Lamb Steele Park

Saturday
September 28, 2019
6:00 PM- 10:00 PM
Downtown Imlay City

Friday, December 6, 2019
6:00 PM
Downtown Imlay City

Imlay City DDA

150 North Main Street

Imlay City, MI 48444

8:00 AM- 4:30 PM

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