This is not a familiar photograph --- in fact I've seen it nowhere outside the Lucas County Historical Society collection. Most would be puzzled if asked to identify the building.
But I'm here to tell you that it is the second incarnation of Chariton's second First Methodist Episcopal Church building, located until the turn of the 20th century at the intersection of North Main and Roland, site of the current soaring stone building.
As I'm sure all Chariton Methodists know (and if you don't, be deeply ashamed), the first preaching services of record in Chariton were conducted by Methodist missionaries and our first congregation of any denomination, an eight-member Methodist Episcopal Society, was organized here during October of 1851 by the Rev. E.L. Briggs.
This doesn't imply that a majority of Lucas County's first pioneers were Methodist, only that at that time, on the Iowa frontier, Methodist mission efforts were the best organized and its missionaries, the most numerous and the hardest-working.
A parsonage was built in Chariton in 1852, utilizing contributions from all the scattered preaching stations in Lucas County that the circuit-rider then served.
By 1853, enough ground had been gained by the Chariton congregation to consider a church building --- also Chariton's first --- a 24 x 36-foot frame structure complted during 1854 on the current site of the Johnson Machine Works headquarters building.
Ten years later, the congregation had outgrown that building, it was sold and recycled for other uses and a fine 40- by 60-foot brick building, dedicated during 1864, constructing at what has since been the Methodist corner. The image below, which dates from 1869, shows that building with parsonage to the right.
By the late 1870s, the brick church was considered inadequate, too, and there was considerable discussion about what to do. Rather than rebuild, the decision was made to spend roughly $7,000 to enlarge and remodel the 1864 building. The result of that remodeling is what you see at the top here. It is very difficult to see where the old building ends and new work begins, but that's what happened.
The brick building was taken down during early 1899 and construction of the current building commenced during June. The stone church was dedicated during 1900 and has served the congregation since.