c.1915 photo courtesy Tim Sanchez

The First Methodist Church was the first Methodist church in Oakland. It started October 21, 1862, by Rev. Charles E. Rich and 14 others. After a fire in 1981, the congregation merged with St. Stephens United Methodist Church to form Lake Merritt United Methodist Church in 1984. 4


The church met in the original Oakland schoolhouse built by Horace Carpentier. They had the building moved to 6th Street and Washington, put on a new foundation, and remodeled into a church. 2


1864 church, SW corner of 9th and Washington 1

After outgrowing the schoolhouse, a church was built in 1864 on the southwest corner of 9th and Washington Streets.


1876 church, SE corner of 14th and Clay 1


In 1876, a larger church was built on the southeast corner of 14th Street and Clay. E. R. Dille was the pastor. 3 The building cost $40,000 and was dedicated May 21, 1876. 2


1914 church on Broadway  1

In 1914, a new church building was dedicated at 2352 Broadway. The building was a large, Italian Renaissance-style building. It was dedicated by Bishop Edwin H. Hughes on Sunday, January 18, 1914. Rev. George W. White was pastor.

The building was all but destroyed in a fire on July 4, 1981, though some of stained glass windows were saved. The church met temporarily at the First Congregational Church. After discussions, the church merged with St. Stephens United Methodist Church (at 3755 13th Avenue) to form Lake Merritt United Methodist Church in 1984. 4

Question: the 1962 history 1 refers to "one church, two locations" and the Broadway Center and the Wesley Center, but not where the Wesley Center was. The 1967 directory lists the Broadway location as "First United Methodist Church" and 737 E17th Street as "First Methodist Church". Was that Wesley Center? If not, where was Wesley Center?

Links and References

  1. A Steeple Among the Oaks: A Centennial History of the First Methodist Church 1862-1962 by Albert E. Norman
  2. Knave Oakland Tribune October 7, 1962
  3. Husted's 1906 Directory
  4. Lake Merritt UMC - Our History