The former Central United Methodist Church on Park Avenue West, now the Bethesda Fellowship Ministry Center, was dedicated on August 27, 1911.
It was designed by Vernon Redding, Mansfield’s best known and most prolific architect of his era, who was also the architect for the Leland Hotel and Carnegie Library building. Because of its heavy stone massing, it has been described as being of the Richardson Romanesque style, but its sloping roof with exposed truss ends, as well as its date of construction, suggests Arts and Crafts influences as well. The exterior is of Sandusky limestone with Bedford white stone trim. A 14 foot cloister is featured on the east side of the sanctuary.
The original seating capacity was 600, or 750 in case of emergencies.
The congregation of Central Methodist Church was established in 1905 at the home of E.S. Nail, when 127 members of the First Methodist Church withdrew to set up a second downtown Mansfield church. Organizers believed that the move was necessary to grow Methodism in Mansfield.
Central’s first service was in the auditorium of the old high school on Fourth Street. By 1950, membership at Central had grown to a staggering 1,266. Only six years later the new building was completed at a cost of $55,000, including for the lot.
The dedication was presided over by Bishop Hamilton, and the evening sermon was given by Francis J. McConnell, President of DePauw University.
Central United Methodist Church was added to the National Register of Historic Places on July 8, 1983.
Sources: Ohio Historic Places Dictionary, Wikipedia, Mansfield News Journal