Jasper First United Methodist Church in Jasper, AL

This historic structure has both architectural and political importance

On Wednesday, December 11, 2013 - 12:37
Jasper AL

The Jasper First United Methodist Church hosts an active congregation that has convened at the site since 1833. The first church building at the site was destroyed in March 1865 when soldiers burned it during the Civil War. The congregation subsequently joined with Masons to build a basic structure that housed both groups.

In 1888, the churchgoers began constructing a new brick building featuring High Victorian Gothic style with a steeple. Then, drawing on Jasper’s prosperity in mineral and timber resources over the next two decades, the congregation constructed the current church building in November 1921. They continued to meet at this building for nearly 100 years, and it is historically significant for two reasons.

First, the church is architecturally significant because its design represents one of “Alabama’s most outstanding examples of beaux arts neoclassicism as interpreted for an ecclesiastical structure,” and the church is “an architectural symbol of Jasper’s boom years as a center of the mining industry in western Alabama, suggesting the wealth and ambition of the 'evangelical aristocracy' which then dominated the economic and social life of the town.” These criteria earned the church its place on the National Register of Historic Places in February 1985.

The church also has political significance. From 1887-1997, every person except one who represented Walker County in Congress was an active member of Jasper First United Methodist Church. Among those members of Congress was William Brockman Bankhead, who served in the U.S. House of Representatives. When Bankhead died in September 1940, his funeral rites were held at the church and attended by then-United States President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and future President Harry S. Truman.

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