Community History – Covington – Main Street Methodist

Main Street Methodist

Main Street Methodist Church was established in the year 1858 in Covington’s west end. The first pastor of the congregation was the Reverend S.S. Belville. The first church was constructed on Main Street on a lot purchased in 1857. This frame building served the congregation for three decades. In 1868, the Ladies Mite Society was established to raise funds to improve the church building. That year, the sanctuary was carpeted, the pews were painted, the pulpit refinished, and the exterior of the church was painted.

By 1882, membership had increased to 164. This growth resulted in the establishment of a church building committee in 1883. In 1887, enough funds had been raised to purchase a lot at the northeast corner of Main and 8th Streets. Work on a new brick church began on April 10, 1888. While the new building was under construction, the members of Main Street Methodist met at Union Methodist Church on Greenup Street. The new Victorian Gothic Revival church was dedicated on November 4, 1888 by the Reverend C.M. Giffin D.D. The building was typical of Protestant churches of the day. The first floor contained classrooms and meeting rooms. The second floor housed the main worship space, complete with art glass windows. The total cost of construction amounted to $17,500. Amos Shinkle, a great benefactor of Methodism in Northern Kentucky, donated $7,500 toward this amount.

Main Street Methodist continued to flourish. In 1903, a major renovation to the church building was undertaken. The work included the restoration of the art glass windows, the installation of restrooms in the church basement and the addition of frescoes in the auditorium. At about this time, Jonathan D. Hearne donated an eight-room home on Willard Street to the church for use as a parsonage.

The church auditorium was again updated in 1920. Two anonymous Covington men agreed to decoratively paint the auditorium and Sunday school rooms. The beautiful work was greatly admired by the parishioners and pastor.

In the years following the Second World War, Covington’s west end began to experience significant changes. Many long time residents began moving to the suburbs. At about the same time, many migrants from Appalachia began arriving in Covington in search of employment. These changes resulted in declining membership at Main Street Methodist.

In 1958, the congregation purchased a home on Kennedy Road in Fort Wright for use as a parsonage. Like many of the parishioners, the pastor wished to have a modern home in the suburbs. At about the same time, the trustees discovered that the steeple of the church was in a weakened condition. A decision was made to remove the steeple instead of repairing or replacing it. Despite the age of the building and declining membership, the members of the congregation chose to maintain the church in the west end.

On March 10, 1986, a severe storm swept through Northern Kentucky. Over 1000 homes and 224 businesses were damaged. Among these buildings was Main Street Methodist Church. The majority of the damage at the church occurred to the stained glass windows. The large five-foot rose window on the façade had to be removed and completely rebuilt. The Kaleidoscope Stained Glass Studios of Covington completed the work. The company also replaced over 200 pieces of glass in the remaining windows.
The congregation of Main Street Methodist continued to decline throughout the 1990s. The congregation currently shares a minister with Epworth Methodist Church in nearby West Covington. In 2002, the congregation discussed a merger with Epworth. Merger talks were discontinued when the members of Main Street re-committed themselves to building up the membership of their church. The Church, however, closed in 2004.

Kentucky Post, September 10, 1920, p. 1, September 10, 1986, p. 1k; Newton, James Marcus, A brief History of Main Street Methodist Episcopal Church. (Cincinnati, OH: 1905); History of main Street Methodist Church 1858-1961.

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