First Methodist Episcopal Church, Williamsburgh

Year
1839
Building type
Material
Neighborhood
South Second Street M. E. Church
First M. E. Church, Williamsburgh

The First Methodist Church of Williamsburgh (now the South Second Street Methodist Episcopal Church) was organized in 1806, making it the oldest ecclesiastical organization in the village of Williamsburgh, and the second oldest church in the Town of Bushwick 1 . The first church building was erected in 1808 on the old Williamsburgh & Jamaica Turnpike (now Metropolitan Avenue) between Bedford and Driggs Avenues 2 . The original church was remodeled in 1821 and remained standing until it burned down in 1845, by which time the congregation had relocated to South 2nd Street.3

Work on the South 2nd Street structure was begun in 1837 and completed in 1839, with the dedication taking place on January 8, 1840. The roof of the church was ripped off during an 1853 storm and the church was extended as part of the rebuilding from that disaster4 .

The interior of the church was redone in 1875, and the exterior may be of the same vintage. Armbruster says that the “entire interior and façade” were redone in 1875, while the Eagle says that the front was only “in part remodeled”, with three entrances instead of the original one5 Both sources agree that the wing to the west of the church was added as part of this renovation.

At the time of the construction of the South 2nd Street Church, the congregation numbered about 50. By 1867, the church had over 600 congregants and had spawned a number of spin-off churches. With the exception of St. John’s, all of the Methodist churches in the Eastern District dating to the 19th century were spun off from First Methodist Episcopal.6

South Second Methodist 2010
South Second Street M. E. Church, 2005

In 1873, the Sunday school had 612 pupils, making it the third largest amongst Methodist schools in the city 7 .

In later years, the church was known as the South Second Street Methodist Episcopal Church. In 1919, the church sold its South Second Street building to a “Jewish Society” and merged with the South Third Street Methodist Episcopal Church.8

  • 1Henry R. Stiles, ed., Civil, Political, Professional and Ecclesiastical History of the County of Kings and the City of Brooklyn from 1683 to 1884 (New York, N.Y., United States: W.W. Munsell, 1884), 1030.
  • 2 “Its Great Progress: The Growth of the Eastern District in Forty Years”, Brooklyn Daily Eagle, August 2, 1891, 13
  • 3Henry R. Stiles, ed., Civil, Political, Professional and Ecclesiastical History of the County of Kings and the City of Brooklyn from 1683 to 1884 (New York, N.Y., United States: W.W. Munsell, 1884), 1030.
  • 4 “Its Great Progress: The Growth of the Eastern District in Forty Years”, Brooklyn Daily Eagle, August 2, 1891, 13
  • 5Eugene Armbruster, The Eastern District of Brooklyn (New York: 1942), 288; “Its Great Progress: The Growth of the Eastern District in Forty Years”, Brooklyn Daily Eagle, August 2, 1891, 13
  • 6 “Its Great Progress: The Growth of the Eastern District in Forty Years”, Brooklyn Daily Eagle, August 2, 1891, 13
  • 7”Sunday Schools”, Brooklyn Daily Eagle, July 18, 1873, 2
  • 8Eugene Armbruster, The Eastern District of Brooklyn (New York: 1942), 288.
South Second Methodist, ca. 2010
Source
Novelty Theater
South Second Street M. E. Church, ca. 1900
Source
Novelty Theater collection
First Methodist Church of Williamsburgh, ca. 1940
Source
City of New York, Municipal Archives
South Second Methodist Church, 1922
Source
Armbruster, Brooklyn's Eastern District