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Cartwright, Carol Lohry; Shaffer, Scott; Waller, Randal / City on the Rock River : chapters in Janesville's history
(1998)

12. Religion,   pp. 208-226


Page 220

While St. Peter's congregation dates to the turn of the twentieth century, no historic buildings
are extant that represent the church's historic period. The new church building, erected in
1955, is too modem to have historical significance and so is not potentially individually
eligible for the National Register of Historic Places.
Since 1940, many more Lutheran churches have been established in Janesville in response to
both doctrinal differences and general population growth. These new churches are too modem
to be historically significant and so are not included in the list at the end of this chapter. They
include Mt. Calvary Lutheran Church, 616 N. Washington St.; St. Matthew's Lutheran Church,
709 Milton Ave.; Faith Lutheran Church, 2116 Mineral Point Ave.; Peace Evangelical Lutheran
Church, 1550 S. Osborne Ave.; St. Mark's Lutheran Church, 2921 Mt. Zion Ave.; Our Savior
Lutheran Church, 2015 Kellogg Ave.; Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, 700 N. Wright Rd.; and
Trinity Free Lutheran Church, 2727 Clover Lane. Because these churches are not historically
significant, their resources are not potentially individually eligible for the National Register
of Historic Places at this time. (City Directories)
Methodist
Historically, there were eight different Methodist groups in Wisconsin, spread geographically
throughout the state. The most significant groups were the dominant Methodist-Episcopalians,
forerunners of the United Methodist Church; the rare Primitive Methodists; and the
Wesleyan, Free, and African Methodists. The Methodist Episcopal Church, now known as the
United Methodist Church, is by far the largest Methodist group in Wisconsin.
Methodist missionaries came to Wisconsin in the 1830s, following their Yankee parishioners
into the territory. By 1848, the Methodists had a membership of almost 7,000; it was the
largest Protestant denomination in the state. Although early Methodists were primarily
Yankees, the denomination made inroads among German and Scandinavian immigrants. The
Methodists had a strong Sunday School program and supported several colleges, including
Lawrence University in Appleton. (Wyatt 1986: vol. 3, Religion, 14-2-14-11)
Yankee pioneers held the first Methodist services in Janesville shortly after their arrival. A
Methodist circuit rider preached there in 1837, and circuit riders came regularly to the
fledgling community between 1838 and 1843. Nine or ten Methodists founded the First
Methodist Episcopal Church in 1843, and a permanent minister served them beginning in 1844.
The Methodists built a small, frame, one-story Greek Revival church at 317 McKinley St. in
1848, but because of their growing numbers, the Methodists were meeting at the larger
Janesville Academy building (not extant) by the early 1850s. (Cadman n.d.:4-6)
In 1853, the Methodists built a new First Methodist Episcopal Church. The brick Romanesque
Revival structure (122 S. Jackson St., not extant), with its round arches and finials, had a
medieval appearance that made it an impressive landmark in the city. By 1856, church
membership had risen to 204, and the church housed a 250-book library. In 1855, another
Methodist Episcopal church was formed on the east side of the Rock River, but after two years,
it merged with the First Methodist Episcopal Church, raising the membership of the First
church to over 300 parishioners. (Cadman n.d.:6-8)
In 1867, prominent local resident and active Methodist W. D. Cargill organized another
Methodist church on the east side of the river. Between 1868 and 1870, a Second Empire style
building was constructed at 36 S. Main St. for the new congregation, named the Court Street
Methodist Episcopal Church. Looking more like a commercial building than a church, the new
church was located in the heart of Janesville's downtown. In 1879, it was reported that the
Religion
220


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