OUR HISTORY

 

In 1862, the Congregational Society of Manistee was formed be ten citizens with the support of Rev. George Thompson, a missionary returning from South Africa. The congregation originally met in a small building on First Street made with cull lumber donated by Charles Ruggles and William Magoon. By 1870, they had outgrown the First Street church and build a brick structure on the corner of 2nd St. and Oak St.  The Sunday school which came into existence in 1873 had over 200 children partly because of the number of Scandinavian children who wanted to learn English in the only local Sunday school that taught English.

 

By 1887, The Congregational Society had again outgrown their building on 2nd and Oak streets. John Canfield, a local lumber baron took on the role as chair of the building committee. He estimated they would need $50,000 to build a 1,000 seat church. Since the building was intended to serve the entire community, a subscription paper was circulated, giving all a chance to be a part of this project.  William LeBaron Jenney, the father of the skyscraper and a partner in the Jenney and Otis architectural firm of Chicago, was hired as the designer. Construction was completed in 1892 at a cost of $60,000. At that time the church could seat 1,200 people and at a 1901 service by visiting evangelist Billy Sunday there were over 1,400 people in the church. In 1974, the church was put on both the Michigan Historic Building Register and the National Historic Building Register

 

There are some very special features in the church that attract many visitors each year.  Nels Johnson, a Manistee clock maker, built the tower clock in 1905 and still today it keeps accurate time. Volunteers have to climb the 132 stairs each week to wind it. There are 48 stained glass windows including 3 windows thought to be from Tiffany & Co. The beautiful building also attracts many students and interested visitors.

To help maintain and restore our building we have formed the "Glass Sticks and Bricks" campaigne.  

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