Community History - Covington - Immanuel Methodist Church
Immanuel Methodist Church was the oldest German Protestant congregation in the City of Covington. German Methodists were present in the city from the 1840s. Initially, they attended the German Methodist Church on Race Street in Cincinnati. In 1847, these pioneers organized themselves into a congregation which was named Immanuel Methodist Episcopal Church. The early services were conducted in the old First District School on Scott Street.
In 1850, the congregation purchased the old English Baptist Church at 717 Craig Street in Covington’s west end. This small frame structure was purchased for $1,100. The Sunday school program was established in 1853. The first Sunday school class consisted of five adults and fifteen children. In 1864, the congregation purchased a small home near the church for use as a parsonage.
Immanuel M.E. Church grew quickly. By the mid 1860s, the congregation had outgrown the original building on Craig Street. In 1866, a lot at the southeast corner of 10th and Russell Streets was purchased as a site for a new church. Architect F. Armstrong was commissioned to draw the plans for a two-story brick structure. The cornerstone for the new structure was laid on July 11, 1869 and the first floor of the building was dedicated on January 2, 1870. The congregation worked energetically to pay off the debt and to raise funds for the construction of the second story auditorium. The second story worship space was dedicated on February 20, 1876 with impressive ceremonies. The entire new structure, including the cost of the lot, amounted to $27,000.
A new parsonage was purchased by the congregation in 1886. This home, located at 79 W. 10th Street, was conveniently located near the church. New stained-glass windows were installed in the church auditorium in 1890. At this same time, new carpeting was laid in the sanctuary and frescos were painted on the walls.
The congregation lost much of its German flavor during the years of the First World War. At this time, the congregation decided to eliminate German language services. This was a common occurrence in many German Protestant and Catholic congregations in Northern Kentucky.
In 1916, an annex to the church building was built to provide additional space for the Sunday school. This additional space was filled within a matter of a few years. In 1926, a decision was made to convert the parsonage on 10th Street into additional classroom space. Even these accommodations proved insufficient. Also, at this time, the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad was eliminating grade crossings on their line through Covington. The C&O reconstruction damaged the Immanuel Church building, causing $15,000 in damage. As a result, the neighborhood around the church became less desirable.
In 1928, the congregation purchased a large lot on Madison Avenue near Robbins Street. Plans called for the construction of a new church (seating 600) and education unit costing $200,000. Construction was to begin in 1929, however, the onset of the Great Depression and the proposed construction of an automobile service station near the site brought these plans to a close.
At the close of World War II, the need to build became even more apparent. The old church was in disrepair, and many of the members had moved to the suburbs. In 1947, Henry Zimmerman offered to donate a plot of ground at the corner of Dixie Highway and Arcadia in Lakeside Park as a site for a new church. The site was gratefully accepted by the congregation on August 9, 1947.
In 1948, ground was broken at the Lakeside Park location. The basement section of this building was ready for occupancy in September 1950. At this time, services ceased to be held at the Covington site (10th and Russell). In July 1952, the old building was sold to A.J. Ostrow for use as a warehouse. The building still stands today as a reminder of the west end’s rich German heritage.
Immanuel Methodist: 50 Year Jubilee Celebration (KCPL Collection); Ticket, February 22, 1876, p. 3; Kentucky Post, October 27, 1926, p. 1, August 10, 1928, p. 10, June 19, 1929, p. 1; December 9, 1929, p. 1, September 13, 1999, p. 4k, November 8, 2002; Kentucky Tines-Star, May 4, 1956, p. 7A; Our Heritage and Our Faith: One Hundred Years, Immanuel Methodist Church, Covington, Kentucky.