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The Full History

Our Building

Our building was the First Methodist Episcopal Church of La Crosse, WI and was dedicated in 1886. Through many changes, we can still agree with a statement made by M. B. Balch about the building, during the 1886 dedication: "it is convenient and durable 'a thing of beauty' and, therefore, 'a joy forever'."

August 15, 1886

First Church Of La Crosse - Building Dedicated 

The La Crosse “Morning Chronicle” of August 15, 1886, reported the dedication program:

“The new Methodist church will be dedicated today. Rev. Dr. Payne will preach at 10:30 a. m., and Presiding Elder Balch will assist in the services. At 3 p. m. there will be a children’s service at the church, of which music will be an important feature. A number of visitors from Winona are expected, among them a boy’s band of six performers on different instruments.

That the achievement of the La Crosse congregation received the hearty approbation of M. B. Balch, presiding elder, is attested in his conference report of the dedication event:

“August 15th, the First Church of La Crosse dedicated a new edifice. Nothing has been recently accomplished in the State of Wisconsin more creditable to Methodism than the successful completion of this fine structure. It is convenient and durable ‘a thing of beauty’ and, therefore, ‘a joy forever’.

“The people of the First Church have been singing the Doxology in their hearts ever since the memorable day of dedication. Only six weeks have passed since that day, and now we have the largest congregation in the city. Our people in La Crosse are grateful to God for his goodness, and have wisely determined to give a practical expression of their gratitude by building a Methodist chapel in the northern part of the city, where we have already a flourishing Sabbath school. The plans are made, the contract let, the work is progressing, and the new house will be ready for use before the snow flies.”


Pipe Organ Installed


In about 1887, the First Church was frescoed, and a new pipe organ installed.


New Sunday School Addition Dedicated

In 1907, First Church dedicated a new addition for the Sunday School and social groups, a gift of Mrs. Charles Coleman, and known as the Coleman Wing.


Fire Destroyed Pipe Organ


A fire on February 4, 1922, in First Church, destroyed the pipe organ and caused $10,000 worth of damage. The congregation met in the Episcopal church while repairs were made. A new pipe organ was installed, and a new ceiling replaced the original high one.


Wesley School Addition Built

The congregation voted Easter Sunday, 1953 to build an educational unit. Ground was broken August 9, 1953, the cornerstone was laid November 8, and by June 9, 1954, Wesley Fellowship Center was ready for use. The Center and Coleman Wings were designed to meet the religious and social needs of every age group in the church, and to provide community services. Receptions, teas, choir rehearsals, between-church service coffees, and meetings of the Women’s Society for Christian Service and Wesleyan Service Guild were among the uses of Wesley Lounge and its adjoining kitchen.


Chapel Constructed & New Baldwin Organ Dedicated

In 1963, plans were made for construction of a chapel within the area of the room east of the sanctuary in memory of Mrs. Hattie Johns. The chapel was consecrated and the new Baldwin organ dedicated on Sunday, September 15, 1963, with Mrs. Ruth Nixon, Thomas Arne, Frank Linder, Rev. E.P. Sheppard and Robert Read of the Baldwin Company participating.

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