"The Methodist denomination organized the first church in Bay View. (An area on the south side of the city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.) It was a small wooden church built in 1868 by English immigrants on the land donated by the Milwaukee Iron Company at what today is 2471 and 2473 Wentworth Avenue. In 1887 the congregation moved to this (at 2772 South Kinnickinnic Avenue) Victorian Gothic cream city brick edifice designed by parishioner William Davelaar." (See Link 1.)
On Sunday mornings in the 1940's and 50's the church bell door would be opened from the stair landing in the front hall and the rope would be pulled. The bell in the steeple would ring out signaling to the community that the church service at Trinity Methodist Church was beginning.
The inside of the church was unique. The sanctuary of dark wood was designed "in the round". The church chancel, altar, and communion rail were a semi-circle at the front of the sanctuary. A large array of tall organ pipes formed the backdrop for the altar.
The five aisles were arranged like spokes on a wheel. At Christmas the choirs with their candles filled these aisles, surrounding the congregation, as they sang Christmas carols. On the east side of the sanctuary tall two storey dark wood folding doors separated the sanctuary from the Sunday School area. This area also had a balcony. On special days the doors could be opened to facilitate a larger capacity in the sanctuary. Downstairs were two halls. One with a terrazzo floor and kitchen which could be used for church dinners. At Christmas in the 1950's all four choirs would sit around large rectangular tables and sing Christmas carols. Featured would be the singing of "Christmas is Coming" and the presentation of the "figgy pudding". The other room was not only used for rummage sales and square dances, but also had a stage for performances.
"After WWII, husband and wife Lillian and Willis Leenhouts designed an educational wing and remodeled the church interior, installing new stained glass windows." (See Link 2.)These renovations were completed in the early 1950's. The church sanctuary now had a traditional layout with the chancel and altar in the front backed by modern stained glass windows. The dark wood was replaced with light blond wood. A formal parlour in honor of Mabel Bullock and a small chapel were also established on the main floor of the church. Later the parlour was moved across from the doors leading to the sanctuary to facilitate morning coffee following the service. An addition was constructed on the front of the building to provide for a church office. An education wing was also added.
In 1968 the Bethel Evangelical Church congregation merged with the Trinity Methodist Church congregation to become Bay View United Methodist Church. Bethel Evangelical Church was built in 1897 at 2392 So. Woodward St. In 1968 it was sold to the Assembly of God for $40,000. That congregation outgrew the building and again sold it in 2001.
Link 2: http://www.sois.uwm.edu/dl/2006/bvhs/walkingtours/tmw.pdf
Note: Suzanne Wilson attended this church as a child.
Happy 100th Birthday, Sid!