The Church Comes to Larimer County
From memoirs of W. B. Osborn: "ln the month of June, 1863, a modest Methodist preacher by the name of Antes rode up to our door, and rapped thereon with his whip still sitting in his saddle. He made known his wants, informing me that he was a Methodist preacher and that he had been directed here by Captain Norton of Boulder, a fine Christian gentleman, whom I had met in the mining camp by the name of Gold Dirt in 1860. Here he was informed that he would find a Christian family to entertain him. He requested that I should announce a meeting for that evening. I did so by going to all of the neighbors and requested them all to come, as there would be but a few at most-if they all came. All told, there were 13 including the minister. The names of those at the first service in this county were: W. B. Osborn, Margaret C. Osborn, Millard F. Osborn, Milo Y. Osborn, Ella C. Osborn, Samuel Heffner, John N. Hollowell, John E. Washburn, Mrs. John E. Washburn, Winnie Washburn, and Joseph Markley and wife, and Brother Antes, the preacher. Here was sung the first hymn, the first prayer offered for church service, and the first sermon preached in Larimer County. Arrangements were made for services monthly."
Our First Church Building
In 1880 David Barnes, on whose homestead Loveland is situated, extended the offer of a building site to any church that would erect a building in the new town. The three churches responding were the Methodists, the United Brethren and the United Presbyterian. The Methodists selected the site on Cleveland Avenue. It was dedicated on August 8, 1880. Loveland was three years old. A. N. Fields was Pastor.
Our Second Church
In 1887 Barnes Chapel was named in memory of David Barnes, "Father of Loveland." Mr. Barnes had been killed by falling from a load of hay the preceding year. A generous gift by his wife, Sarah Barnes, made the chapel possible. She was for many years, until her death, a faithful member and liberal supporter of this building.
Our Third Church
Our third building was dedicated December 29, 1901. The "Loveland Reporter" of January 2, 1902, carried an account of the dedication. "The largest indoor audience ever assembled in Loveland was the one that gathered at the Methodist Church last Sunday morning to see the new edifice properly dedicated. Through professional courtesy, every minister in town abandoned regular service, and, with his members, attended the Methodist service and participated in the program."
Tragically, 40 years later, the building caught fire on a Sunday morning and was completely destroyed. Thankfully, everyone was able to exit the building and there was no loss of life.
Our Fourth and Present Church
This building stands on the corner of Grant and Sixth Streets. It was consecrated on February 18, 1951. The sanctuary has a seating capacity of four hundred, a Fellowship Hall beneath the sanctuary, a well equipped kitchen, and a parlor with a seating capacity of one hundred. The building is of salmon rose brick, concrete and steel, as nearly fire proof as possible. It is of Gothic design.
On February 26, 1956, an educational wing to the south of the main building was dedicated, It matches the sanctuary in design. It was built on three levels. In 1976 the Florence Coy Memorial Hall was built and dedicated. Coy Hall now houses our kitchen, overflow for worship and our Youth Range. In 2008 we completed the redesign of our Children's education area, updating both the look and feel of Sunday School and Children's Education.
The Church Comes to Larimer County
Chloie’s father and mother were the custodians of FUMC at some point in the late 50’s, Chloie guesses. One of her father’s jobs was taking care of the lawn, and it was a mess when he took over the job. After three years of his care, the lawn was thriving and beautiful again. There was a sprinkler/crawler that followed a hose along its length to water the lawn. When her father fell into ill health and passed away, Chloie helped her mother with the custodian job. After a couple more years, the mother’s health failed, and Chloie took over the job herself. Rev. Kenneth Smith was the senior pastor, and Rev. Paul Holdeman was the associate pastor.
The church building was much smaller then. It encompassed only the sanctuary, the basement underneath, and the Sunday school classroom wing. The entire top floor of the education wing was the Youth Range.
Chloie’s father had owned a lumber yard, and while he was the custodian he and Chloie made a set of wooden blocks for the nursery out of scrap lumber. The blocks were in two sizes—four inches square and four by six inches. They were beautifully varnished, Chloie remembers. She visited the church many years later and saw that the blocks were still in use in the nursery.
The floors in the Youth Range and classrooms were all tile. When Chloie became the sole custodian, she asked the church to buy a floor polisher. She says she kept the floors shining like mirrors, polishing them every week.
Part of Chloie’s job then was to oversee weddings and funerals. Some weekends in May and June there would be two weddings a day. One stands out in her memory. The organist was playing the music before the ceremony, and Rev. Smith hadn’t shown up when it was time for the ceremony to start. Chloie asked the bride’s mother what they should do, and the mother said, “Let’s get this underway, any way we can.” Chloie asked if the mother would mind if they found another minister. Both agreed that’s what should be done. Chloie motioned to the organist to keep playing, and she went to the office to call Rev. Smith. No answer. She decided to call Rev. Holdeman to see if he could substitute for Rev. Smith. No answer there either. The organist played on. Chloie happened to think of the minister at First Baptist, Rev. Houseman. In desperation, she dialed his number, and luckily he was at home. Chloie quickly explained the situation, and Rev. Houseman said he’d be right over. The organist played on. At last, the wedding ceremony could begin, and all went well. Later, when Rev. Smith was told the story, he was ever so embarrassed that he had forgotten the wedding.
Chloie remembers one particular story about Rev. Holdeman, who worked with the church youth group. There were a couple of boys from the youth group who decided to walk to Fort Collins one day. They passed a car parked at the side of the road—unlocked and with the keys in the ignition. They decided to take it for a joy ride—and did. Then they brought it back and parked it right where they’d found it. Somehow, they ended up in the detention center, and Rev. Holdeman went there to visit those boys. He oversaw them for awhile when they got out of the center. One day, with those two boys in the car, he parked at the back of the church and left his keys in the car while he ran into the church for a minute. The boys were in the car and shouted at him that he needed to take his keys. He seemed to have forgotten them, but Chloie thinks he may have been testing the boys to let them know he trusted them completely.
The floor of Fellowship Hall in the basement under the sanctuary was finished concrete when Chloie was there. She had a sawdust mixture to help her clean that floor, as it kept the dust down. One evening after a Cub Scout meeting, the mother of one of the little boys was late picking him up. Chloie had him sit on the steps, and she talked to him as she sprinkled that sawdust mixture on the floor before sweeping it. The little boy said, “That’s the first time I ever saw anybody put dirt on the floor, just to clean it up!” Chloie was still laughing at that story when we finished our interview.
– submitted by Judy Pearson