The United Methodist Church is the oldest church in Black River Falls. It was founded in 1847, only eight years after the first permanent settlement was established at “The Falls” along the Black River.
Although the first official Methodist service was held on September 26, 1847, a Methodist circuit-rider preacher traveling from Prairie du Chien to Lake Superior had conducted a service here in June of 1843.
Our early Methodist Church ministered to a young, rowdy group of loggers. In fact, the September 1847 service was held in The Shanghai House, a combination hotel/saloon located near the river on Water Street. A few years later, the congregation built a log combination church/parsonage at what is now 203 Main Street.
Late in 1857, the congregation moved into a new wooden church located on the southeast corner of the block in which the current church now stands. This building was moved away in 1887 and was replaced by a large, red brick church that same year.
On January 27, 1946, the red brick church burned due to a fire originating in the furnace room, and for the next six years services were held in the Masonic Temple on Main Street.
A new brick church was constructed in 1950-51, further north from the corner location. The formal opening of this church was held on December 9, 1951. To provide for a growing congregation, the building was enlarged and partially remodeled in 1966-67.
A major change was made to the church in 1993-94, when a new sanctuary was built, and much of the original section was remodeled. This project was motivated by congregation growth and a need to remove architectural barriers from the building.
Throughout the years, our church experienced three name changes. It was originally known as the “Methodist Episcopal Church,” then the “Methodist Church,” and then the “United Methodist Church,” when Methodists united with the United Brethren Church in 1968.
During all of 1997, we celebrated our sesquicentennial with many impressive activities, which gave us an opportunity to rejoice in the fact that our church has had, and continues to have, a profound influence on the lives of many children and adults in this community.