Church’s Growth Has Paralleled the City’s Growth
Before 1877, there were no known churches in what we now call downtown Kennesaw. In February of that year, the Kennesaw Methodist Church was organized by several prominent community members who quickly organized a Sunday school. This original congregation met above a downtown store. Early in the church’s history, there was a great deal of cooperation with the Baptist church, which had been established in August 1877. It is believed a church building housing both congregations was constructed in 1877, but its location is unknown.
The first preacher at Kennesaw Methodist Church was M.W. Arnold, but the church’s first wedding — James Tanner and Mary Grambling — was officiated by a Baptist minister.
On April 1, 1881, Gaspard and Jane Carrie gave the Methodist church land on Cherokee Street for a new building. Two of their sons, a daughter and a daughter-in-law were founding members of the congregation. There are no known pictures of this original structure. It was torn down in 1902 and replaced with a new building on the same site. The building has one large bell tower on the left side, and when chimes were installed in 1957, they were dedicated in memory of Joe Bozeman Sr., who had passed away the year before.
When the 1902 sanctuary was built, the congregation was quite large. The church had 137 members in 1904, 153 in 1907 and 237 in 1910. For comparison, the total population of Kennesaw in 1910 was 573. On one cold day in November 1907, 59 cents was collected, equivalent to $18.05 today.
The building was not expanded for 30 years. In 1932, the young adult class held several lemonade parties to raise funds for a new 20-by-24 meeting room. The admission to the parties was “one lemon plus 1 cent per seed.” Four years later, new pews were purchased. The names of families who had donated money for the pews were put on small plaques. The first church directory was published in 1936.
The church’s first parsonage, a house next door, was purchased in 1948. The following year, an annex, featuring a kitchen and dining room downstairs and four classrooms upstairs, was built. The addition cost $3,509, and another $450 was spent on furnishings. That same year, an oil stove, the first “central heating system” in the church’s history, was installed. This was indeed a cause for celebration.
In 1953, stained-glass windows were placed in the sanctuary, and a year later, an additional annex was constructed. Land was purchased on Pine Hill Circle in 1961 for a new parsonage. The church soon raised enough money to build the house, and Bob Bozeman and Tinie Hill broke ground for the structure. It was completed in 1963.
In the late 1960s, the congregation realized the 1902 sanctuary soon would not be able to meet its needs. In 1967, 11 acres were purchased on Ben King Road for a new building. A bond company going bankrupt caused some setbacks, but after many years of hard work, the new building opened in 1981.
The old church soon was sold and became a Catholic school, but it later changed ownership several times. It now serves two purposes. The sanctuary is an events facility called The 1808, and the annex is Apotheos Roastery. The church building on Ben King Road has been expanded several times and is one of the road’s most distinctive sites.
From the small group that formed the congregation in 1877 to the thriving church of today, Kennesaw United Methodist Church has grown with the city. Its old location and current building are both landmarks of our area and will be for years to come.
– Andrew Bramlett is vice president of the Kennesaw Historical Society and an honorary member of the Kennesaw Cemetery Preservation Commission.